When I once noted to a new friend at a barbecue that I was "kind of a political junkie," two other friends immediately chimed in, "YES SHE IS." No site about me would be complete without my political ideals and heroes. I love talking about this stuff, and moreover, I think it's really important! So thanks for taking a look at this page.
To give you an idea of just what this means to me (and therefore why this page is a central part of my About the Author section), I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite selections from my own journal:
I was singing this for about a week straight after President Obama was inaugurated. It really captures the amazing feeling of that week for me, so I wanted to include it here to share with you. I know we're all back to reality and focusing on the hard realities that face us now and all, but I don't think that lessens the value of this moment in our history, and I find it inspiring to remember it.
You probably also noticed the drawing to the right. I did that one with my Copic markers just after Obama was elected. (Now that's my kind of fan art!) I even made a special trip to the marker shop to pick out just the right skin tone, complete with an entourage to confirm the color selection. (We decided he's Caribe Cocoa. Questri's skin tone of Light Walnut was a shade too dark.)
So this is who I am as we enter the Obama Administration, but if you go back to the days I was singing along with Kidsongs as I mentioned in that entry, you can see that I've always been a political activist. The first presidential election that I can remember was in 1988, when I was in the first grade. And I sure was not going to sit on the sidelines just because I was only six years old! Take a look:
In a box of scraps from my early childhood, I also found this note that my mom had scrawled about something interesting I had done, from when I was in the second grade:
Jessie—Comment on Switzerland—12-1-89
J: Why can't all countries be like that—not fighting?
(Mom): How did you know about that?
J: I read it in my atlas.
After finding all that stuff I made when I was little, I asked my mom if she encouraged me to pay attention to politics, but she says I got interested in it all on my own. I come from a long line of political junkies on my mom's side. Her dad, my Grandpa Bill (who was, sadly, the only one of my grandparents I never got to meet), was a career military officer and proud to be an Independent. He voted for Republicans all his life but twice, when he supported Adlai Stevenson over Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. (That's the candidate who was once told at a rally, "You'll have the support of every thinking person in the country!" To which he allegedly responded, "That's not enough. I need a majority!")
And while my mom has indeed voted for Democratic candidates all my life, my dad was a Libertarian (or really, a supporter of any third party candidate), though to our shock he got so fed up with Bush that he actually voted Democrat in '04 and '08. (Gasp!) Meanwhile, the rest of that side of my family is staunchly Republican, so I did get to hear multiple perspectives growing up. I like to think this means I wasn't blatantly programmed with political views as a little kid.
Now I'm a registered Democrat, and I first voted two months after I turned 18 in 2000 for Al Gore. I respect people who are politically independent since it usually means they consider the issues carefully. The Democratic Party's values and goals, however, happen to be consistent with my own so I'm proud to align myself with the party. In principle, I would consider voting for a Republican, but in practice, the Grand Old Party has drifted too far from their grand old ideals about, you know, actual fiscal conservatism that includes, oh, say, not spending billions on wars without asking people to sacrifice something at home. I certainly hope that if the Democrats were ever to lose their way that badly, I'd be open-minded enough to vote for another party. For now, however, that's not a concern. Let's hear it for the Blue Team!
Most importantly, though, I feel fortunate to have been born in the United States, even when the Other Guys are in power. Here's how I feel about that, written on July 4, 2010.
When I was growing up I never heard anything good about the Kennedys from either side of my family, so it almost felt like I was being a traitor to my own family when, upon first reading about the Kennedys, I learned about a politician who inspires me more than any other. No, not JFK—I'm talking about the president's little brother. Bobby Kennedy is my political hero. The trait I value more than any other in a person is empathy, and he seems to have had this in spades, along with sincerity, idealism, and a determination to get out there and see real problems and work to change them. In addition, he had a remarkable ability to learn and change. Less importantly, I also think it's pretty cool that he was originally awkward and uncertain, hated small-talk, and, despite being an outspoken adult, was still childlike in many ways. (I was pretty amused to read that he often asked foreign leaders and other important dignitaries what their favorite ice cream flavors were. Hey, I like to ask people that very question myself!) It also doesn't hurt that his brother (being less than admirable in this respect) used to complain that he was a "monk" and a "puritan," heh.
Anyway, I find his life story and his speeches really inspiring, and they make me want to step it up and be a better, braver person. So in that light, I'd like to share with you my all-time favorite political speech:
Robert F. Kennedy: Day of Affirmation Speech
Cape Town, South Africa; June 6, 1966
(You can find the text of this speech at AmericanRhetoric.com.)
Other speeches I like:
- Lincoln's Second Inaugural — If you aren't familiar with this speech, check it out. It's poignant and profound, humble and yet bitingly witty. It's carved on the wall of the Lincoln Memorial across from the Gettysburg Address.
- FDR's first inaugural — I definitely agree that we have nothing to fear but fear itself, in so many ways.
- Al Gore's speech on renewable energy — I wish my friends would stop telling me that Al Gore is actually wrong and that we can't achieve this goal in 10 years. Way to be defeatist, guys. So what if we try and it actually ends up taking 15 or 20? The main thing is that we tried and got it done ASAP. Plus, I think Mr. Gore has done a lot more research on this subject than my cynical friends have.
- Barack Obama's speech on race — Wow, he nailed it. He said it so well. It was cathartic just to listen to it.
I might also note that bothers me a lot that there aren't any women on this list. If you know a speech out there by a female leader that you think I'd like, I'd be thrilled if you told me about it!
My Favorite TV Show
If you read my profile page, you know that I generally do not like watching television. I don't follow any shows, though I do like to watch things like Washington Week and other such things on PBS. But I generally don't follow TV programs for entertainment.
With one major exception.
That is, of course, The West Wing. Because it is the best show ever. I can even stand to sit through (gasp!) two episodes in a single night sometimes, and for me, that's saying something. It combines thought-provoking, complex issues with a fantastic cast of characters—I can't think of a single major character I don't like. I have the whole series on DVD. I got Season One from my parents for Christmas, then watched my favorite episodes with my family, and we discussed the issues in the episodes afterward. Such fun.
I didn't actually watch this while it was running on network television, though. I tried to watch a few episodes when I was in college (and the show was in its second season) because I was curious about this popular show about politics, but college kept me too busy and I couldn't watch it reliably. When I was in Japan during the 2008 election season, however, I found it for rent at the local video shop, and thus hours and hours of the next few months were taken from me. (I averaged a season in a little over a month, which seems like a LOT to me.)
Here are my top favorite episodes:
- Mr. Willis of Ohio — The discussion about archaic language given to Congressman Willis inspired me to print out, read, and highlight the Constitution of the United States.
- Take This Sabbath Day — It's about capital punishment, which is an issue I care about very much (I'm adamantly opposed to it), and I think the way this story—especially the way it ends—is masterfully done.
- The Warfare of Genghis Khan — This episode took two unrelated things I find extremely interesting—NASA and space exploration, and the ethics of war (specifically, whether the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be justified, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)—and managed to weave them together to make a profound statement. (P.S. I went to Hiroshima. Here's what I think about that.)
I've never been so impressed with television before. Even when I'm watching it by myself, I sit there saying "oh WOW this show is GOOD" aloud and applauding. It almost makes me wish there was more TV out there as good as this. (Almost. Because if there were, then I might watch it, and this stuff is way too time-consuming.)
When I was campaigning with Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm in 2002, I noted how demanding the experience was and thought, "Wow, I never want to do this." But a few years after that I went crazy and changed my mind. Or at least, I'm considering it. We'll see where I end up a little further down the road—but just in case I decide to run for office, I've started thinking about my campaign! (Before I run for office, though, I gotta get a book published. I guess my life's to-do list is a little long....) Ivy has already offered to be my veep should I ever run for president. So explore our sites and see if you like us. I hope we can count on your votes in 2032! ;-)
To launch our campaign, Ivy made me this fantastic poster as a Christmas gift in 2008. (Click on it to see it up close.)
The details may be lost on most people, so I would like to point out that the coaster in the background is the Magnum XL-200. The rest of it is fairly self-explanatory, and 100% of it is awesome. You know you want to vote for us!
And on that note, I'll wrap up the political babble and send you to peruse the rest of Skygawker.com.