I live in Gulfport, Florida. It is a small town on the extreme south-west corner of Pinellas County. We are part of the much larger Tampa Bay area, which includes St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, of course Tampa, and much more.
Every day I drive to work through my neighborhood, which I love, and I see Obama/Biden yard signs, and I see McCain/Palin yard signs. I see SUVs and I see hybrid cars. I see Florida friendly landscaped yards and I see crappy lawns. I see white kids walking to school, I see black kids waiting for the bus, or riding their bikes, or skateboarding, most of them assuredly on their way to Boca Ciega High School, just down the road.
To be totally honest with you, I have no idea whether I live in Sarah Palin's "real America" or not.
I really don't care.
My mother told me not all that long ago that I had never persuaded anyone to vote one way or another with my writing in this blog. Frankly, I was relieved to hear it. Persuading voters was never my motive. Talking about politics -- mostly with myself -- was, and remains so. I enjoy the few comments I get, and I enjoy answering questions when I can. I always learn something new.
But I like politics and I like writing, so this is really a selfish endeavor when it's all said and done.
I have had some people ask me what I think about Sarah Palin, or Sarah Palin and John McCain's campaign. They ask why I haven't written about her selection, or them generally, more.
Here's why: because they do not represent anything political, and I write about politics on this blog.
Sarah Palin especially no more represents a political figure in this country than Britney Spears or Ernest Hemingway. If I wanted to write about pop culture, I'd write about Britney. If I wanted to write about literature, I'd write about Papa Hemingway.
Sarah Palin has absolutely nothing to do with politics.
She has everything to do with hatred, anger, division, bitterness, cynicism, and in a perversion of the word "politics," the politics of us and them.
John McCain's campaign chose Sarah Palin for one reason, and one reason alone.
Oh, make no mistake -- John McCain did not choose Sarah Palin. His operatives did. The Republican Party operators. Anyone -- McCain included -- who suggests that she was chosen by the Senator from Arizona after he only met her once or twice is playing you for a complete fool.
Sarah Palin was chosen to appease, and ultimately fire-up the far-right of the Republican Party. Initially it seemed to have worked, too. And Governor Palin seemed all too ready to be programmed with her attack-based talking points and sent out into the field. What McCain and the operatives didn't take into account was the level of anger brewing, the level of vehement maliciousness, the level of abject -- there is no other word for it -- hate in their own party.
So Sarah Palin is little more than a cheerleading brewmaster, stirring this ill-conceived pot of putresence until it boils over with cries of "Kill him!" and "Terrorist!" and whatever other abominable epithets they spew at these rallies. Her job, in other words, is not to raise the level of discourse. Very simply, it is to incite hate. Which has nothing whatsoever to do with politics.
Politics is about discussing our differences in ways that bring us together, not drive us apart. That's what so great about it.
I'm pretty sure I live in "real America," and I love my country, just like I love my community and my neighborhood. Like my mother said, I am probably the last person to convince anyone to vote one way or the other. But for whatever it is worth to you, I proudly cast my vote to renew America's politics and rejuvenate a civil discourse within America.
I voted for Barack Obama. Because we all live in real America.