Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Batting 0.000

Several months ago, I came to the painful realization that I have never supported a presidential candidate that has either won their party's nomination or the presidency (yup, batting 0.000). Unfortunately, I came to this realization a week or so after declaring my support for Obama.

My "out of the mainstream" streak actually extends back to 1980, when at the age of 13, I first became politically active/engaged for John Anderson in the republican primary, and later the general election as an independent candidate (hey, he was the only one that was saying stuff that made sense). Jesse Jackson didn't do much better for me in 1984, and Paul Simon (the one with the bow tie) fell flat in 88. Tsongas in 92 still breaks my heart (and I still hold it against Clinton), and we all missed a hell of a fun ride when Perot wigged out in 92 and 96. McCain/Gore in 2000, swing and a miss. Edwards and then Kerry in 2004? No we can't.

To confront my embarrassment, I sent out a survey to an extraordinarily unscientific population of people (n=11, 9 responses) selected because they actually read and respond to emails I send them, asking them to share their presidential batting average. The numbers were quite interesting.

In aggregate, there had been 12 votes for an eventual winner, and 42 votes for an eventual loser (0.286 batting average...more than good enough for the Cards this year)

A third of respondents had a 0.000 batting average(!) demonstrating that latte drinking contrarian (lower case l) libertarians with anarchistic leanings tend to cluster together.

Only one respondent (11%) had a batting average that was better than what a monkey would score throwing scat at a wall with two same-sized photos of the candidates.

For some odd reason, I was thinking of these survey results as I watched Rev. Wright's National Press Club presentation last night.

It was the capper for a very interesting weekend for Rev. Wright. His appearance on Bill Moyer's Journal Friday was remarkably intelligent, balanced, and thought provoking. His NAACP diatribe was a remarkable (and embarrassing) journey through the fun house of race "science" and seemed intended to offer nothing more than fodder for the eventual YouTube remixes. Yesterday's National Press Club Q&A was a rage of narcissism that could have only been intended to provoke and piss off "the man".

After that "feeling dirty as you watch a train wreck" feeling had passed, it crystalized for me that the election this year is not so much about ideology or policy, but is truly about generational values and aspirations. There are those defined and driven by their struggles around Vietnam, Watergate, Jim Crow, 60s Civil Rights, and Communism, and those who know this stuff was important to the grown ups in their life, but who don't quite understand why we can't move on.

When all is said and done, the events of this past weekend will either be remembered as the trigger that continued my unbroken streak of picking unwinners, or as the moment that there was a clean generational break with the issues and history and struggles that defined the baby boom generation.

I remain hopeful for the later. It is long past time to build the world our kids will inherit, and not endlessly refight the battles that a previous generation fought as they built a world for themselves.

If the former, I look forward at tossing the proverbial scat at the wall to decide my vote in November.

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