Friday, September 10, 2004

The Politics of Dancing

This has been a fun week in Johnny O's blogland...I seem to have somehow gained an international following. My Mind: Lifesized has gotten all kinds of crazy hits this week and even some comments. I think that is totally cool.

When AW and I were in France this summer we had one of those days from Hell that has a way of turning into a great story. It's a long story but let's just say it involved getting stuck on a bus at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris which then got delayed by a bomb threat, which then got stuck in traffic, which then dumped us in a slum and so on. During this 6 1/2 hour ordeal I first exchanged glances, then hellos and then a conversation with an Iranian guy named Hossein. Hossein was in Paris for a quickly arranged business meeting and had somehow gotten himself into the same predicament as AW and I...turns out he's a pretty cool guy. We've stayed in touch via email, first exchanging pictures of where we live (my pictures were of mountains and river streams as Hossein is a fisherman and his eyes lit up when I described the fly fishing here. His pictures were of some of the ancient cities in Iran I told him I yearned to visit), then talking about Art and Culture and lately about politics and religion. It's been really enlightening and exciting. As AW said to me the other day, I'm the World's best pen pal (this is of course not true and I seem to remember she said it with a bit of sarcasm, but I like to entertain myself with the notion that friendships can still be made via the pen or the keyboard).

At the same time all this has been going on, I also reconnected with a longtime friend and guy who holds a special place on my friendship shelf, Dick Coons. Dick and I went to high school and college together and we were inseparable during an important stage in both our lives, so our friendship runs deep despite the fact we've drifted apart over the past decade. He and his wife live outside of Dallas, Texas and he recently started a new career working for a company that basically sells pre-emptive cyber security. We've been catching up on life and such and I invited him to read my blog. He made a comment about my politics, which I found a bit strange, and told me about his wife's involvement with the Republican Party and how she got to attend the national convention. Personally, I think it's pretty damn cool whenever anyone is committed enough to attend a convention, regardless of their politics.

I guess this long meandering introduction brings me to the point of this post...politics. I define myself as a conservative liberal who has an independent streak. Haw! Did that statement make you spit up your milk? Seriously...when I was in high school I worked on the campaign of Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut, a successful Republican who helped transform our sleepy "nap-town" into a thriving community. I then worked on the gubanatorial campaign of one of the Hillenbrand's, a Democrat. My first presidential vote went to Reagan, my last to Nader (as a write-in in Indiana, a staunchly Republican state on the Federal level). I've marched on Capitol Hill for Peace & Justice in Central America & South Africa (during the infamous Barbie Nation phase) and voted for Perot. In short, I'm all over the board. What I say to my conservative friends is that if there were no such thing as greed and if the private sector truly was as benevolent as they advertise, EVERYONE would be a Republican (well, everyone except the Libertarians, Socialists and Communists that is)...somewhere between the Republicans and the Democrats is where I sit.

Now my friend Dick made a good point, he said he just votes and hopes whoever wins will do a good job. The part of that point that is good, of course, is the fact that he votes. Too many people in this country don't even bother, even though they sure bother to complain. I do believe a vote makes a difference and I do believe that despite all the riders, pork barrel's, filibusters and scandals, good politics can and does take place. I like grassroots stuff, even though I still haven't found my legs here in Montana (talk about a crazy ass state politically...this place is wacky).

I really don't think either one of these jokers running for President can do much in the next four years...Iraq will still be struggling with forming a future after we shattered their past (a past worth shattering by most standards but not the way we did it), the Afghans will still be trying to figure out the best way to enter the modern world, Islamic fundamentalists will still be trying to push their version of Islam on the rest of us, corporations will still be directly and indirectly helping and hurting people at the same time and so on. I think it was Nader who said we've got a bunch of Republicrats and Demublicans running the show around here and I suppose I feel the same way.

I'm still going to vote, I'm still going to volunteer and I'm still going to speak out about things that I believe matter. And I'll still be doing it as a very independent conservative with strong liberal leanings!
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