I hate making decisions. I find them nervewracking in the extreme. I can do simple decisions, usually. And I love planning, which involves making decisions to some extent. But the difference between planning and actually making decisions is that in planning, all of your options are still open. When you make a decision, you set off a chain-reaction that inevitably changes your subsequent choices.
Sometimes, when we have two movie choices and Peter tells me to pick, I'll tell him to pick for me. That's the only way I can figure out what I really want. When the option is out of my hands, I can judge it so much more easily. I'm either happy to go along with his choice or I realise that I'd actually prefer the other film, so I ask to overrule his decision.
The primary election process being what it is, I've never voted in a primary that actually meant anything. Before this year, the decision was done and dusted well before the election in my state. When I realised that this this year, my little ol' absentee ballot from Ohio was going to mean something, I knew I would have to make a tough decision.
When I started researching the candidates back in January, I used a bunch of those candidate-matching sites. I'd put in my policy beliefs and usually, the site would tell me that Mike Gravelle or Dennis Kucinich were my best matches. The best of these sites was http://www.glassbooth.org, which let you do issue-by-issue comparisons as well as giving you overall percentages on your match with a candidate. I think my match with Obama was 82% and with Clinton was 80%. The differences were minor and the major difference was something that they had the same position on anyway. (I have a problem with federal funding of education. They don't.)
Without the ability to make the choice based on issues, I drifted into the fuzzy land of perception. Who seemed more competent? Who seemed more electable? Who would be the best person to represent the Democratic party? Who did I like more?
Without the ability to attend rallies and see the candidates for myself, I was dependent on the media reporting, which for me is pretty much NPR. After the New Hampshire primary, I made up my mind. I was definitely voting for Hillary. Absolutely. The way Chris Matthews was dancing prematurely on her political grave disgusted me. I was going to vote for Hillary and I was going to be glad to do it.
Then came the South Carolina primary. The way the Clintons (plural) conducted themselves during this time was disgraceful. I especially could not handle the way Hillary dissected and harped on Obama's comments about Ronald Reagan and the Republican party being the party of ideas. It was such a stupid, pedantic, trumped-up load of absolute horse manure. I changed my mind. I was going to vote for Obama.
The last four years of Bill Clinton's Presidency were dogged by partisan attacks and a blatant attempt by the Republican congress to undo the results of a democratic election. Then the last eight years have been so polarising and difficult in the States, it felt like the best choice was to go for the blank slate. Obama carries so little baggage and he seems like the best chance to avoid the bitter partisanship and polarisation that has nearly become institutionalised in American politics.
I drifted along for the next few weeks, sort of set on Obama but in a kind of mourning over Hillary. I know this is an unpopular thing to admit, sort of like saying you find Woody Allen cute or think that black jellybeans are the best flavour, but I really like Hillary Clinton. As a person. She's tough and smart and if I had a daughter who grew up to be like Hillary, who persevered in the face of so much opposition, I'd be so proud of her.
You know the old joke about the difference between exoskeletons and endoskeletons? One goes crunch-squish, the other goes squish-crunch. I think Hillary would go crunch-crunch-crunch-crunch-squish. As someone who is far too sensitive and yearns to be more resilient in the face of adversity, I can relate to and respect toughness more than I can relate to and respect someone who appears to skate through life with a surfeit of charm and grace.
Since it was an absentee ballot, I had to vote a few weeks ago. I voted for Obama and part of me has regretted it every day since. Peter was trying to reason me off the metaphorical ledge yesterday and I really couldn't articulate a single logical reason for feeling the way I do. I'm afraid that I've gone for style over substance. That I've sold out my own standards.
I'm just glad the decision making for me is over, even though in making the decision with my head, I learned what my heart knew all along.