Jean Barker

Who would I vote for - Obama or Romney?

2012-09-07 08:09

Jean Barker

I remember the first time I fell for US presidential election rah-rah - the first year Clinton won. I thought the whole world was going to change if he got in. But then one of the first things he did was show that he was nothing more than another insecure nerd by wasting his power getting free blow jobs from his dumpy intern, and then trying to distract us by bombing people in Iraq.

Clearly, I realised, there are no clear cut heroes in politics - not once they wedge their butts into the throne. So no matter how many times my heart begins to betray my brain while I listen to touching stories of true love from first ladies and rousing stories of the American spirit in action, I'm sceptical.

Who would I vote for?

The two current presidential candidates have more in common than I expected they would. To win an American election, you have to play a game with your electorate, and in this game there are three rules you must never break... ever. Nothing can change the rules, not even your sense of right and wrong.

Rule One: You gotta be a Christian
Results of a poll that showed just two months ago that 17% of registered American voters still believe Obama is Muslim. A previous (2006) poll set the number at 55% - a public relations disaster that prompted the president to feel he had to make public statements to prove his relationship with Jesus was legit. Some people still think he's lying. I find it insane that a poll was even conducted, and that this kind of thing is considered relevant to his candidacy.

Rule Two: You gotta side with Israel
And this would seem to contradict Rule One, given the whole “come to Jesus or burn in everlasting hell” thing hardcore Christians have going, but don't let that irony bother you, Mr. Wannabee King of the World. You gotta support Israel against Palestine. Saying you object to Israel's actions or questioning its moral high ground makes you “anti-Jewish” and that's election death. Instant. Fatal. Death. Romney went on a rather obvious ass-kissing mission to the Holy Land a while back. Do people not see through this?! But Obama also delivered on the pro-Israel requirement in his DNC address: “Our commitment to Israel's security must not waiver.”

Rule Three: You praise the military It's considered an insult to the “brave men and women of the military” to question any military move the USA makes. In the eyes of most people I meet, almost all of whom have a relative in the military, I may as well be a terrorist myself if I question whether terrorism is really what they're fighting against. The brave men and women are giving their lives. How dare I insult their sacrifice? Well that's a stupid argument, if you ask me. Suicide bombers are also giving their lives. That doesn't make their actions morally correct! And hey kids, what's worse? (b) being pro-peace or (b) sending your young people overseas to die in foreign wars?

These rules make picking my candidate difficult for me. One: I am an atheist, and believe in freedom of religion. Two: I think the Israeli-Palestinian thing is a great big moral gray area. Three: I question the effectiveness of war as a means to bring about peaceful solutions to problems.

What's left? Independents? Never heard of them. There's been nada since Nadar that really seemed to matter in this game, and even then all he reputedly did was split the liberal vote.

As an imaginary voter in this election, I'm conflicted. But luckily for me and millions of other left-leaners who have to make a hard decision, Romney's an obvious no-no. I just can't get with going backwards in time on issues like women's rights. I can't see how the insanely rich need more money, or how giving them more money will help the financial crisis. I will be terrified for America's future if a president who is openly xenophobic is elected. I want to see my future president's tax returns. I agree with Obama that the military is already big and scary enough. And don't get me started on strangely square jaws, candyfloss hair, or pearl necklaces...

So yes, I guess it's obvious that I'd vote Obama back in. According to most research, so would most of the world. A BBC world poll in 17 countries around the globe found that, for fairly obvious reasons related to self-preservation, President Obama was the internationally favoured candidate - by a gigantic four to one margin.

Let's hope, for the sake of the disenfranchised global population who will be affected by America's choices whether they like it or not, that American voters deliver a world leader that the world actually respects. And me? Well, I'll be putting my imaginary cross on my imaginary ballot when the big day comes.

- Jean is a screenwriting/directing dual MFA student in California, USA. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.

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