Perhaps I'm settling into some sort of 30-something funk, but I feel far less compelled to act on my social and political concerns than when I was younger. It could also be the crippling social anxiety and mental illness, but I'm less comfortable with that analysis. Not that getting older and not giving a rat's ass about activism anymore is any better.
There was a time when someone in the Socialist Party, or a letter from Jobs With Justice or some other organization, would compel me towards action. Back in the day, I'd pull my 440lb ass from door to door, getting signatures for this or that; health care reform, abortion rights, banning greyhound racing, that sort of thing. I even worked a phone bank and held a sign for Mike Dukakis back in 1988. These days, it would literally take a gun to my head (or anywhere else on me) to get me to canvas, work a phone bank, or do visibility.
McCain is almost as bad as a gunshot wound, and I have to admit I'm enthusiastic about Obama, even though I'm much farther to the left. I've been told that some members of Democratic Socialists of America are so unhappy with Obama that they are shopping for hopeless third-party candidates for which to vote. I've been there. The Socialist Party USA has a couple of good people, Moore and Alexander, as their ticket, although you'll have to write them in.
It saddens me deeply that the radical Left is in such disarray (it is). Eugene Debs was a long time ago, although that doesn't detract from his being a beautiful, thoughtful man whom I love in some ways. The same way I love Kurt Vonnegut and David McReynolds (a comrade with whom I still correspond). It's unlikely that I'll ever love Obama like that, but I don't have to love him, I just have to think he would do more to lessen economic injustice, maintain social programs and bolster them, and reduce American imperialism. And I do think that about him, particularly when cast in bas relief against McCain.
So Obama it is, and I'll vote for him with enthusiasm. Someone on Fox News called Obama a "socialist" and a "Marxist" the other day. If that's true, what the hell am I? If the spectrum has moved that far to the Right I must have fallen off the Left Wing and am now floating in some sort of Void. Maybe I'm dead. Like Bruce Willis in that movie with the kid that used to be cute but is now sort of ugly.
Many people still support a national, universal health care system that is publicly-funded. I know you're out there, I can hear you breathing. Maybe there are even a few who want to nationalize the oil and pharmaceutical companies, as well as the airlines. Perhaps not as many, but still.
Obama is definitely not a socialist (come on), and "Marxist" is just silly. He's a Centrist Democrat, no matter what Glenn Beck tries to tell you.
As I vote for Obama, though, I'll be thinking of Debs, who once said:
Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
I'll probably be stone-cold dead before the pendulum swings back to the radical Left, but swing it will. And then Glenn Beck will have a real Socialist to complain about. Or maybe his kids. Little Joey Beck.