Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

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.


At 4 March 2008 at 11:30, Blogger Babaloo said...

I know what you mean about planning and decisions. I love planning but I don't like making decisions on the spot.
I feel a lot like you about the two candidates and I'm happy that I don't have to make a decision. If I had to, I would've voted like you, though. I think. Probably.

Oh, and thanks for the great print. I absolutely love it. :)

At 4 March 2008 at 13:41, Blogger Kaycie said...

This primary process has been painful. I suspect our views are similar since our candidate preferences on those little poll sites are similar. I mourned John Edwards in a big way, though, and if I remember correctly, you weren't so much this time.

Once he was gone, I was torn. I just couldn't vote for Obama, and you've nailed why. I think a vote for Obama is a vote for style over substance. Hillary won Oklahoma. Unfortunately, I think she'll lose the nomination.

My biggest fear though, is that we're going to put another male Republican in the White House. The only positive I can cling to here: thank goodness it's not Mike Huckabee leading the pack for that nomination.

At 4 March 2008 at 14:31, Blogger laurie said...

i love black jelly beans.

obama: more electable.

hillary: more competent.

it woudln't have mattered which way you voted. i think we're looking square at another republican president.

At 4 March 2008 at 14:32, Blogger Jan said...

I really feel that Obama has it all over Hillary. I refuse to vote with my ovaries, and I think he has more style, grace and substance. One of my long time friends is way in the Clinton camp. She says we'd get a 2fer. I don't buy it.

At 4 March 2008 at 14:41, Blogger Dave P. said...

Good post, Ann. I never been in the position of being torn over two candidates. Either the nominee was long-decided by the time my primary came around (Kentucky votes in May), or in the general election, my vote was overwhelmed (KY has gone red lately, in Illinois, I was part of the Dem majority).

I guess the closest I've come to being torn was Gore/Bush in 2000. Hard to believe now, but I was so fed up with the Clinton/Gore administration, and was so unimpressed by Gore's campaign (remember the "lockbox" parodies?), that I was going to vote for Nader as a protest. I changed my mind, literally in the voting booth, and voted for Gore (thank god). But Bush took something like 65% of KY's vote, so it didn't matter.

I voted right at 6:30 this morning. I was happy to vote for Obama, I actually walked out with a smile on my face. It's the first time in my life that I have voted for someone I believe in -- rather than against someone or something -- and the first time in 16 years that I have felt hopeful about politics in America.

I disagree very much that a vote for Obama is a vote for style over substance, but we've already gone down that road. ;-) (Re: Kaycie's comment -- I love Edwards' emphasis on inequality, but he has far less experience than Obama or Clinton. I hope he'll be a cabinet member in an Obama administration.) Anyway, I'm glad that you still bother to vote from far, far away!

At 4 March 2008 at 14:42, Blogger Dave P. said...

P.S. Surely I'm not the only one who has never heard the joke about endoskeletons and exoskeletons?!

At 4 March 2008 at 16:18, Anonymous Noelle said...

I love that there are two candidates who could potentially make great presidents. When do we ever get those kinds of choices? Also, isn't it fun to have your primary vote actually matter? That's never happened to me before.

At 4 March 2008 at 16:41, Blogger ped crossing said...

Black jelly beans are the best flavor. And I am in one of those states where the decision has already been made by the time we vote.

I may go check out the glass booth website though.

At 4 March 2008 at 22:00, Blogger Rose said...

Hey! I know exactly what you mean! I had planned to vote for Obama right up until the day of our primary (Virginia) and at the last minute changed my mind and decided I really had to cast my vote for Hillary; for many of the reasons you listed. Very torn though. I think it was a reaction to some negative, misogynistic "jokes" about her that made me realize that I wanted to make some sort of stand against that particular brand of bigotry. Interesting election though!

At 5 March 2008 at 01:29, Blogger The Rotten Correspondent said...

If Laurie is right I'm moving to Ireland. Or someplace more stable than the US - like Baghdad.

I'm serious. I can't take eight more years of this.

At 5 March 2008 at 04:42, Blogger Sweet Irene said...

Being Dutch and not being able to vote, my sister and I have discussed this issue a lot nevertheless and we decided that Obama would probably have the better chance at beating John McCain, at least, that's what we hope, because we would hate to see another republican president in the White House.

My husband and I also think that Hillary has been taking very unfair and hard shots against Barack and that she is not fighting a gentlemanly fight. She may be a tough woman, be she is not a smart cookie, we think.

Well, so much for the Dutch imput.

At 5 March 2008 at 06:47, Blogger -Ann said...

Babaloo - I'm so glad you liked the print. It's one of my favourites.

Kaycie - You do remember correctly. I'm just not able to contemplate another 4 years of Republican presidency.

Laurie - You're sort of freaking me out with your prediction.

Jan - I envy your decisiveness.

Dave - And I envy your hopefulness and voting happiness. I'll feel that way in November, no matter who the nominee is. As for the joke, clearly you didn't run in as a nerdy a crowd as I did in high school. :)

Noelle - Yeah, it's great to be able to make such a choice.

PC - I'm surprised to hear so many votes in favour of black jelly beans. (Not surprised to find no one finding Woody Allen cute - maybe my mom is the only one.)

Rose - I think I could fill a whole nother post or two about my thoughts on the cultural biases against women. (And no, I don't think that just not liking Hillary makes one a misogynist. There are a lot of more subtle, more difficult to articulate things going on.)

RC - You can come stay with us. we've plenty of room. :)

SI - Well said. I'd have voted for her quite happily had she and Bill not said such stupid things.


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