...This is a political post. / by laurel

...er, sort of. So brace yourselves, my friends. 

I usually try to remain neither left nor right of center when it comes to the political fracas; rather, I'd prefer to be as far away from all the squalls and accusations as possible, be they blatant (McPalin) or passive-aggressive (Probama). There is hardly an issue more divisive to Americans than that of politics. Ask your friend if they prefer Coke to Pepsi and they will likely rattle off a list of reasons for their predilection, unless they are the loose-cannon Independents of the soda-consuming public and prefer Dr. Pepper. But ask your same friend if they lean to the left or the right and the response could be anywhere from passive apathy to riotous uproar. Usually somewhere in the middle (unless you're schizophrenic, in which case, do you vote twice?).

However be that as it may, an election is coming up which means that politics, for all their gore and glory, are in the forefront of most peoples' minds. It also indicates a certain difficulty in remaining "outside the ruckus" if you're like me - opinionated, to be sure, but previously politically apathetic. It's important as a citizen of the red, white, and blue to know what's happening in the world and on our shores. Granted, I don't digest the news like it's my morning bagel or late-evening nightcap, but when it comes to something as historic as an election, I've realized that having an informed opinion is the freedom that I have, and that I should protect and respect this right by using my brain for something other than fashion blogging or music criticism. Hey, I even watched a few days' worth of the Olympics. One small step, as they say. 

But (and you knew there'd be a but, right?)...it's difficult. I know. Not everything should be easy, no pain, no gain, and all the et ceteras in the world. But truly, I find myself in an interesting position as someone of faith (pro-Jesus, y'know what I'm sayin?), who lives in Los Angeles (a thriving modern day Babylon; a glittering metropolis whose core radiates with intelligent, urbane, well-to-do liberals and underprivileged strugglers who are neither liberal nor conservative, rather, who have been dealt a nasty hand at life and are striving to make the best of what they've got), who works in a typically liberal field (art, music, photography...to wit, not many conservatives mark the hallowed walls of the MOCA). And who, though raised in an overwhelmingly conservative atmosphere, is a Democrat. 

There, I said it. 

The truth of the matter is, it's a layered and intricately complicated issue, this decision of which party to align with. And it isn't without a certain amount of derision toward my own parties' alignments on key issues (abortion being the main one) that I choose my political affiliation. With both the Democratic and Republican national conventions wrapped up, splashed on YouTube like blood at a PETA party, and utterly annihilated by commentaries and talking heads, it is within that ashen wasteland that I digested the speeches of the Obama and McCain tickets. So I get it; I've read the left, right, and center. I've watched the speeches. I've endured the manic yelps of a crowd fortified by thousands waving their political banners on their sleeves. 

Is McCain's political aptitude consolidated by his blatantly savvy choice of Veep? And has Palin's own political adeptness been  proven with her bitingly sarcastic speech, a missive whose factual fallacies and mudslinging certainly confirmed her tacit assimilation of Washington D.C.'s big-boy rhetoric? Of course. One point for the Repubs. But what of Obama, of his stalwart, toothy hopefulness in the future of our country? He certainly has an agenda; appealing to emotions of hope and change and sensitive Dems who weep at the very thought of social injustice. There have been fewer smug indictments of the opposing party from Obama's camp, and though I'd like to believe that his non-smear campaign is a moral decision, the fact remains that it's nevertheless strategic for Obama to remain aloof, given who his target demographic is. At the end of the day, for all the speeches and proclamations, it seems both candidates are more interested in eliciting impassioned boo's from the crowd than upholding a standard of integrity and truth in their political tactics. Yes, I'm talking about both parties here. 

Because guess what? This politics thing that we're all so divisive over? It's all a game. A PR strategy designed to crown the winner with a weight of responsibility that no single man or woman can possibly carry without fault. And when all is said and done, I believe it is our responsibility as intelligent individuals with access to all the information we could possibly want, to educate ourselves, to form an opinion, and to seek truth in what we're deciding. But what I'd personally like to call an end to is all the fighting, sniping, the leering and jeering and cannonball-firing. It's not helpful. It's not necessary. And it reduces people to nothing better than a flock of geese squabbling over bread crumbs. 

What's important is the discourse, the ongoing, organic discussion of what is happening in America. It's important to seek opinions from people whom you disagree with. And I personally look forward to weighing the issues, to listening to the other side, to deciding for myself where I stand in all of this - without viciously attacking those who disagree with me or calling into question the moral fiber of someone whose political leanings don't match my own. And as for Palin's biting sarcasm? Eh, I can get down with that. If the woman can dish it, then I'm sure she can take it. And it is with a sense of humor, above all else, that this election must be treated. Because if you can't at least laugh at the skirmish, then what else is left to do?