Thursday, August 16, 2012

Obama/Biden, Romney/Ryan: which way, America? The future is now, or is then?

It is one of those days that every married couple knows too well: every time my wife wanted to say something to me she had to repeat herself. I was locked in on some far horizon or wandering about in an inner fog.

It started last night. A political commentator observed that Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as a vice presidential running mate was the first time in our national history that a political party has candidates for the highest elective offices, neither of whom are Protestants. Romney is Mormon; Ryan is Catholic. Are discussing sociology? Politics? Religion, of course. Psychological earth tremors? That, too. And. That’s the problem: the “and.” 

It is, of course, compounded by the first black being elected President. He was a Protestant – a much questioned reality you may recall, as the sermons of his black pastor erupted on the national media – while Biden was Catholic. That, too, is no longer a jaw dropper only since President Kennedy’s election.

What compounded this for me was watching the Olympics. Attempting to identify the national displays by skin color, eye shape, and other biological displays was of no use. You couldn’t tell an athlete from the USA if you couldn’t check out the name tag; we equaled the yellow skin of the Chinese on the parallel bars and were second cousins to the Japanese on the diving board; we were blacker than a lot of folks from the Dark Continent. Who could know what country that athlete was from with the German sounding name? It was clear we Americans had cheated: we skimmed off athletes from any and every country that gives out passports…It was natural to chant “USA! USA!” but our American athletes were “World, World, World.” On the other hand, if some countries didn’t enter athletes usually playing for some American university they wouldn’t have had entries. When we read the national lists of medals being awarded I couldn’t help but wonder if we were getting a geographical lesson or history one. 

So what is it for Romney to be a Mormon and Ryan to be a Catholic – and having a Tea Party Base largely of Fundamentalists? If you don’t feel confounded, you and I are not on the same page. 

We keep hearing it said that this election is a historic game changer. I am not sure but the game hasn’t already changed. We make our observations as best we can, but the one thing of which I have some clarity is that is it increasingly wise to be observant.
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