Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pre-adolescent Worldview of the Obama following

Pretentious blog title aside, I'm just riffing here on a few things that occurred to me lately.

My mom's stock answer growing up was "life isn't fair," which for a kid so invested with the idea of her own brilliance was devastating. "Life isn't fair" isn't something you can reason your way around. At least not when you're 10.

When I was in middle school, my best friend was OBSESSED with the idea of becoming a Navy SEAL. Her dad, who passed away when she was very young, was in the Navy I think. Her sister was the brain, she was the tomboy (although both were brilliant), and I think she may have been trying to be the son her dad never left behind. She was desperately upset at the idea that women couldn't (can't) be SEALs. "First woman SEAL" is her "Where will they be?" caption in our eighth grade yearbook. We were practically faint with excitement when the ban on women in combat was partially lifted (I wanted to be a government assassin.) We read way too many Robert Ludlum novels.

But then we went to high school and she freaked out with hormones - slipping grades, dabbling in alcohol and drugs, boy after unsuitable boy. Lots of people, myself included, wondered how such a great girl would so willingly throw her prospects out the window. Six months later, mine hit. Catastrophically. And I wondered no more.

I think about her whenever I hear of the argument for gender segregation in the military, like this one at the Corner this morning.

When I look back at how fervently we believed, how much our own self-worth was tied up in the idea of life being fair, as in EQUAL, I almost can't recall the feeling of uncomplicated faith in our rightness and righteousness. There is such a beauty and wonder about the way children - even the girls - dream about their future.

But I think we were wrong then, because we don't live in the kind of world where an uncomplicated faith can be sustained. Children can look at the shining ideal of "equality" see it as more than a value, but as a means, end, and entire belief system unto itself. Only children can honestly believe that men and women are the same. When they become men and women, they know better.

There's been a lot written about the Democrats in politics or Hollywood that root for Obama because their children do. Their worshipful treatment, his Messiah-like image, all of it has a kind of childlike wonder, bright and full with their dreams. Should he lose, there are very, very many people who are going to be distraught in a way they would not for other political candidates or races.

What do they expect to achieve with him though? Other than "hope" and "change" and "a new political discourse"? This is the real world, and real life isn't fair. It won't let us choose the purest of candidates and follow wherever he may lead us and trust that he will not lead us astray. What does Obama stand for? The only real political record we can look to is his lockstep vote with Democratic Party leadership and 100% record of voting against the unborn. It isn't fair that these are choices we have to deal with. Life isn't fair. I have yet to have a conversation with an Obama supporter that can tell me anything about what concrete actions they expect Obama to take in office. Their obligation to the world stops at their support.

The Utopia children dream of is simple and pure and uncomplicated. It's also arbitrary and uninformed and rote. The world of adults is harder. It's dirty and unexpected and infinitely complicated. But it's better.

I hope my old friend is happy, even though she isn't a SEAL. And even though I'm more June Cleaver than La Femme Nikita, I'm happier this way too.

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