January 30, 2008
Monologues are sometimes boring, so I write this in response to Adrienne Marie Brown’s “I Love Obama Like I Love NY” post on Wiretap about political cynicism and scripted candidates, and in response to the cynic in me who has yet to sport a candidate shirt, post an “I Support” badge on Facebook or join a campus campaign group.
As young people across the nation spend late nights and early morning campaigning for their chosen candidates and eagerly attending rallies, I anxiously wish I could be as excited about a candidate as my peers. I know that at times I carry my cynical and critical baggage to a fault, but during this election year it has been difficult for me to muster up some enthusiasm and genuine passion especially when it seems so easy for so many other 20-something folks. Maybe I have outgrown the assumption that elections can bring about structural transformation that makes homelessness a national priority, that condemns the collective punishment of Palestinians, that calls for a living wage not a minimum wage, or that recognizes the socio-economic crises on Native American reservations.
It is possible that I realize that an electoral process more controlled by capital than by my students who will vote for the first times, cannot effectively transform our society. Undoubtedly, I am upset with the careless manner with which the term radical and transformative has been thrown around, especially when none of the candidates have explicitly denounced the destructive elements of capitalism and materialism.
Whatever, the case, I spend a lot of time, maybe too much, hoping that I had a candidate to believe in this year. Where is my prince or princess charming of presidents? Does he or she exist?
As an instructor at East Palo Alto Academy I had my students create their own candidates. The results were imaginative syntheses in the likeness of Malcolm X with a slight Catholic disposition, gender change with underground training from the Zapatistas.
Of course, my students were curious whom I supported. After a presumptuous prediction about my stance on abortion, my students were ready to predict my chosen candidate. And because my brown skin is a proxy for my political alignment, my students assumed I was a closeted Obama supporter. I guess race trumped gender in this case, a displeasing assertion for Gloria Steinem’s (“[White] America’s Feminist Idol”) who argued that race is no longer a salient issue and being in possession of a vagina and bleeding once a month meant that I am obligated to support Hillary Clinton.