The Popularity of Hope
I'll never be popular. But at least, if and when the United States is overswept with some horrific social philosophy calling for, say, the ritualistic murder of red-headed children of Ukranian descent born on the full moon, I'll be one of the martyrs instead of one of the conspirators. Um, yay.
I've never been "normal." I've always liked Sci-Fi (which is bad enough for boys -- I can personally assure you that it's really unacceptable for girls). I never had great fashion sense. I have never, ever cared one whit about brand names. I think MTV and reality television shows are boring beyond boring. I do not understand Dane Cook's appeal, and I never will. I was using computers long before it was cool. (In fact, I was one of the few who joined the first-ever online networking site -- pre-AOL, let alone Friendster, MySpace, or Facebook). I didn't particularly like Britney when she seemed relatively normal, but now that she's so screwed up I feel sympathy for her (unlike those who love nothing more than kicking a girl when she's down). I was loud when I was supposed to be quiet, and bored when I was supposed to be interested. I was homeschooled. I was not remotely popular, ever, as a kid.
So it really shouldn't come as a surprise that, once again, the ocean is flowing one way and I'm facing the other thinking "what the fuck?" To what am I referring? Why, the U.S. presidential race, of course.
Now, here's the thing that really kinda gets me: I was a trendsetter here. I liked Obama before it was "cool" to like him. I liked him when he was an underdog with beautiful ideas and inspiring speeches. I liked him before will.i.am probably even knew who the fuck he was. Nothing's particularly changed since then... so why am I so goddamn sick of the Obama love orgy? Shouldn't I like the fact that people recognize and value character (or at least, apparent character) in a politician? Shouldn't I be glad that we might actually have a black president?? I mean, aside from political differences (an issue with every politician, in spades), how AMAZING would that be.
And yet. I just. Ugh. I can't feel it anymore. I can't get into it. I watched the video the other day and by the time it was over I was feeling pretty emotional... about the fact that apparently I'm the only person in my generation who doesn't "get" how "important" it is elect someone with such a message of hope. Is it because I disagree with the message? Of course not. And I really, really love how even-handed he's been, as a general rule, throughout his campaign (although, sadly, I cannot say the same for many of his supporters*). Is it because I don't like his policies? Well, they certainly aren't ideal from my quasi-libertarian perspective, but they're far from the worst in this election. In the past I have certainly supported candidates with whom I've had at least as much disagreement.
I worry that it may be some bizarre, vaguely misanthropic distrust of mass support and popularity,** with a bit of a thing for underdogs thrown in, brought on by the fact that the people that everyone flocked to when I was younger were: 1) not me, 2) not my friends, and, most importantly, 3) complete tools.
Because... I can definitely get behind an idea that lots of people support. If the situation were simply that Obama was winning all the states, without some powerful, emotionally-grounded mass movement driven by college students and celebrity musicians, I think I'd feel a lot less wary of it. Even though I'd likely still suspect that a lot of the support was based on platitudes rather than pragmatism, at least I wouldn't have people screaming in my face constantly about how I have to vote for Obama if I believe in hope.
I went into this election season discouraged -- as usual, not a single legitimate, consistent, rational libertarian-leaning candidate out there (no, Ron Paul does not count). I'm afraid I may end it even more discouraged that I belong to a generation of lemmings (and, to be clear, I'm certainly not suggesting that all of Obama's supporters aren't thinking and researching for themselves -- but I am suggesting that many of them aren't).
*Don't even get me started on the rampant sexism this campaign season. Yes, there's definitely been a heaping dose of equally-ugly racism too, but not at the level of hecklers yelling at Obama that he should get back to the plantation (compare, e.g., "Iron my shirt!"),*a and, perhaps more importantly, not en masse from Hillary supporters -- very little aggravates me more than supposedly progressive sexists. At least from the right wingers (even the nice ones are generally benevolent sexists, which is less emotionally offensive but no less limiting) I expect it.
*a That said, if I have to listen to another person talk about how Obama wants to turn us all into Muslims and anti-white Christians simultaneously (how this is possible, I have no idea), I may just march up to the local Democratic party headquarters and demand that an extra vote be added for Obama's name, just to spite the racist asshole.
**And it probably doesn't help that my favorite subgenre -- the only type of book, other than caustically sarcastic humor, that I could honestly say I regularly find myself reading "voraciously" -- is dystopian fiction. I need to remind myself that just because everyone loves Obama doesn't mean he's Big Brother.