The Road from Apolitical to Political

I¡¯ve been voting regularly since 1996. It had less to do with passion in politics than a sense of obligation. Voting is a sacred right. I treasure it. It might have something to do with the fact that I grew up in China.

We watched the vote count of 2000 race and we were disappointed at the final outcome in Florida. But what could one do? I shrugged it off. Went on a Thanksgiving trip to Paris. There I went to a friend¡¯s friend¡¯s birthday party. In the little Paris suburb apartment, surrounded by sophisticated Paris yappies, I was asked the same question in limited English over and over again, all delivered with wide-eyes, raised eye-brows, ¡°How come the people of US took the outcome so calmly? How come there is no protest on the street? No riots? Even us here in Paris felt edgy and concerned watching it! You don¡¯t feel outraged?¡±

To be fair, I was thoroughly puzzled by the outcome. Like almost all the liberals, I couldn¡¯t believe 50 million people voted for GWB. It was understandable for the top 2% to vote Republican, but as those poor rural states one after another fell into GWB camp, I was dumbfounded. How could people be so blind? At time I still had that blind trust in the US constitution, the Senate, the Congress, and the Court, surely someone will curb GWB¡¯s power when he gets too out of hand?

Everything changed after 911. With Afghan War, Bush¡¯s Tax Cut, Federal Government¡¯s refusal to help the states, creating war and enemies instead of jobs in the middle of the recession, Iraq War, drastic healthcare premium, etc. etc. etc.. All these events kept on drawing my interest deeper and deeper into politics.

The reason that I¡¯m going through all these mundane details is that maybe it is a common enough road that many has traveled too. Going from apolitical to political. I just read one of the top articles on blogdex, which blasted all the MovableType weblog users. It basically said that because of MovableType¡¯s ease of use, the internet is now flooded with repetitive rather than original insightful contents. He made a short list of the major topics being covered by all the bloggers out there, and ¡°Presidential Election¡± being the number one on his list.

Is that really a bad thing, though? I think not. It is a good sign that more people care about elections and policies. It is afterall the first Presidential election after 911. I think many people want their voices heard. Since Bush stood on Ground Zero and announced that the terrorists attacked us because they hate Freedom and Democracy, well then let¡¯s find out for themselves which kind of Democracy and Freedom we have that worth thousands of innocent lives. How can that be a bad thing?

This is the first Presidential primary that I¡¯m closely monitoring via the net and NPR.

I¡¯m pleasantly surprised by the positive messages sent out by all the candidates. I¡¯m hugely relieved that almost no one employed nasty back-stubbing, dirt-digging, and negative companioning. I¡¯m amazed at how Democratic Party¡¯s messages are holding national headlines day after day after day. Suddenly toppling GWB no longer seems impossible. There is still hope! Hallelujah! I think if we have a team of the two John¡¯s. We would be in very good shape! 🙂 I don¡¯t really mind either of them being the President.

Here is a profile on John Edwards also by the New Yorker: THE NEWCOMER, by NICHOLAS LEMANN

It talked about how Edwards became one of the nation’s most successful trial lawyers, by representing the little people, in cases that challenged large corporations and powerful interests. And how it might help him in the southern states where Democratic influence is week (one of my puzzlements!).

In most places, liberal politics rests on labor unions¡ªbut not in the South, because it is a region where unions are weak, and where industries came, in part, to avoid unions. Non-economic liberalism, based on causes like environmentalism, legal abortion, and gun control, doesn’t work in the South, either, because it is such a socially conservative region. The South does, however, still have a deeply ingrained underdog consciousness, and one place where that manifests itself is in the personal-injury courtroom. Throughout much of the South, trial lawyers are, in effect, the left: an influential group that, instead of converting populist sentiment into redistributionist legislation, converts it into big rewards for a small number of people who have stories of having been screwed by powerful, uncaring figures. Big jury verdicts in tort cases are what the South has instead of unions. It does not seem at all far-fetched to imagine that this version of liberalism could someday reach a national audience. The country is moving more and more toward a courtroom-style politics of anecdote.

And here is the complete set on all the candidates, also from the New Yorker: THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL