Knowing the sound of the ocean

Admittedly, it’s all a bit of a horseand pony show. Let’s just get that out of the way right off the bat. A lot of the same hands reach into the same cookie jar, and neither party can really claim the true high ground overall.

And it pays for a presidential election to look close, or to be made close. The collective media certainly has dollars at stake when presenting the race as a 24-hour reality show with stock characters, stock polls, predictable plot turns, greatest hits and holographic election night maps. This whole ordeal isn’t nearly for our benefit as much as it needs to be, and beyond even that, isn’t nearly as much about the true crunch of governing as it could still be. Add to all this, that politically at least, Obama and Romney aren’t nearly the type of caricatured polar opposites that they can be turned into, and the walls seem to close in a bit. Things are rarely as dire as they seem, and never as good as you want them to be.

That said, I like Barack Obama. He smokes cigarettes, enjoys soccer, thinks with depth, can see his own reflectionr ctl in the mirror, and is basically another flawed American trying to get through the grind of modern life cl as best he can, albeit in radical circumstance. That’s called being a liberal in current parlance, but his generalg personality is more normal then anything. I wish he were the hyper-liberal radical the right-wing paints him as. The reality isn’t nearly as fun, or true, as that image, but hey, at least we get the image for once.

And that’s one of the strange things about how this country has developed into the 21st century. We have begun to live in a true anti-reality. Any fact is debatable. As a mass, we have difficult time discerning between truly important moments, and those that just seem so. Both are presented with an equal level of breathlessness.

But individuals do know the difference. The faces on the flat screens that follow us everywhere are much dumber, and far less complex, than those that sit around the screens. Don’t let the byproduct of mass culture fool you: we are still incredibly complicated and unique beings. We still ride on the shoulders of giants.

Vote for the candidate who represents the direction you’d like the world to move. Don’t focus on the issues. Changes occur on a slow slide, and whether installed for four or eight years, there’s only so much harm or help one figure can actually do to affect your everyday humanity.

The economy can’t come back until we learn how to handle the three-fold problem that has effectively worked over nearly every class but the top tier: technology, globalization and greed. Two of those were in some ways inevitable, and one is as old as the Bible. It doesn’t have to do with the national debt or taxes; those are easy excuses and explanations for a difficult new world that is being cut into an old-world fabric. You can’t afford things because you’re not being paid enough. It’s that simple.

If you shave everything down to its bare bones, you’ll end up voting for Romney with at least one of these three things specifically on your mind: race, religion or wealth. Perhaps even all three, and not for positive reasons. Romney amplifies and nurtures the beliefs of rival gods, big guns, transactional economies and scorched earth environmental policy. He’s a conservative prototype. He’s the polished representative the Republicans have trotted out to let us all know that we are forgiven for getting a little dizzy four years ago and electing a vaguely secular, multi-ethnic, different kind of president. He’s a concept. He’s what a segment of the country wants to believe we are, were and always will be. He’s a lie.

Modern life seems so frenetic and fractured because of the period of time we occupy. We stand firmly, I think, in the middle of a tearing fault line between lingering old-world mysticism and tradition, and progressive scientific thought. Both outlines are cosmically terrifying, and difficult to reconcile. It’s beginning to really hurt to know that our old answers aren’t correct, and that we have no new answers. It pushes us to cling on tighter to positions that aren’t tenable, and this is true around the world. We have to learn to be good to each other just for the sake of it, without reward, to fight anarchy and embrace a new modern insanity the best we can, even if it is somewhat fearsome, and trust that eventually, perhaps, we’ll be able to handle it.

To me, Obama embodies this new complexity well.

And, he surfs. How does this never come up? Barack Obama is the country’s first surfing president. Bodysurfing, perhaps, but we can’t all be perfect. He can’t do it anymore, because it would unnecessarily endanger the president, but he grew up in Hawaii on the water. He knows the sound of the ocean, and so do I. And in this house of mirrors, with these worldwide demands on thought and power, somehow that connection is good enough for me. ¦

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2012-10-18 digital edition

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