Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Battle for My Soul

Ever since I was a little kid, my parents have raised me to be a Democrat. They never indoctrinated me or forced me, but they both voted Democrat and they would espouse the Democratic values to me, and it all made a lot of sense. They are conservative, to be sure, but they voted for Kennedy and Johnson and yes, even Michael Dukakis.

(Quick story: I was about five years old when Ronald Reagan was shot. I had always heard my parents complaining about Reagan and so when you're that young you don't have a firm grasp on things. My mother had seen on TV that Reagan was shot and was a little shaken up. She had to pick up my dad that day, so she put my brother and I in the car to go get him. When my dad got to the car, she said, "Did you hear Reagan was shot," and before my dad could respond, I yelled something in the way of approval. I was only 5, I didn't know any better. Well, my dad yelled at me all the way home. So they're not insane.)

Even more than the virtues of the Democratic party, however, they had criticized the GOP and many of the evils they have done. From Watergate to Iran Contra to the final straw -- the Clinton Impeachment proceedings -- to me the Republican Party has been a party of lies and much bad politics. In fact, I think my parents are Democrats because Republicans are the only other choice.

Now all this is black and white and very simplistic to a kid. Since then I have terminated my official membership with the Democratic party because I didn't think they were on the right track either. I mean, seriously, if Gore/Lieberman is the best combo you can come up with for an election, maybe you deserve to have it robbed from you. Furthermore, I found the Democratic celebrity angle distasteful. I'll give you an example: I was watching Jay Leno (don't ask me why) and Eric McCormack from "Will & Grace" was on, and he was talking about how he and someone else from that show were walking around Los Angeles campaigning for Al Gore. I'm thinking, first of all, Will, who the hell are you to be telling people who to vote for? Secondly, isn't Sen. Lieberman one of the foremost proponents of censorship and creative suppression in the Democratic party? Thirdly, aren't you a freakin' Canadian, McCormack?! Spare me. But, to me, anything is less evil than the Republican party.

(Another quickie: there was a time where I had considered switching to the Republican party. I found that I had a lot of common ground with a lot of social issues. Not the racist stuff, mind you, but a lot of the civil liberties stuff. For example, the ACLU's overboard attitude and actions against religious symbols such as Christmas trees and manger scenes, or the left-wing's propensity to litigate frivolously. But when I had just graduated from college, the Clinton impeachment hearings were going on, and I was disgusted. I know that conservatives hate Clinton. I know that they have tried to oust him from office by the ballot, but that didn't work. Truth be told, I'm not a huge Clinton fan myself, but he was a very good domestic president. But I was so shamed by this last gasp effort to remove Clinton from office for such a minor, personal incident, that I turned my back on the GOP forever. It's no wonder they stole the 2000 election, they knew they couldn't win it fairly, but they couldn't risk having another "liberal" in the White House.)

Now, warp to an alternate universe: Since I was 11 years old, I have been obsessed with the Buffalo Bills. In case you aren't aware, they are a National Football League team based in Buffalo, New York. They're the only team in professional sports history to lose 4 consecutive league championship games. But as a young boy growing up in nearby Rochester, NY, I became enthralled with this team. And from 1988-1993, for my money, no football team was more dependable, more easy to root for and more fun to watch. The team was like a family to me; and whenever I got a chance to see them in training camp or at a mall appearance or whatever, it was like meeting a movie star, whether it was a backup linebacker or the starting quarterback.

The starting quarterback for 11 years was Jim Kelly. He's in the Hall of Fame now. He was my hero. The way he turned the team around and made them a winner made everyone in Western New York so proud. Whenever I played quarterback in football, I was Jim Kelly. I wanted to be him, I think. When he dove in the endzone with :02 left against Miami in the season opener in 1989, he was elevated to godlike status. His 2 AFC Player of the Year awards brought our small community to the Big Time. And the four Super Bowl appearances will never be matched. Ever.

Okay, now flash forward to Thursday, September 2, 2004. I'm watching the Republican National Convention, right before New York Governor George Pataki is about to speak. They roam the crowd looking for faces. And the one non-politician celebrity they see is none other than ... Jim Kelly. My hero. At first I didn't know if it was him or not. But then they cast a long camera shot at him, pumping his fist and cheering on Gov. Pataki (one of the worst governors in the nation, by the way), and I knew it could be no one else.

This was my own personal armageddon, a collision between two opposing forces that have shaped my world. It subjects my entire belief system into question.

My world is crumbling.

My only hope is that the Republicans will follow Jim Kelly's lead in this election, and come in second.

1 comment:

d. dunford said...

There was a fascinating piece on awhile back on athletes and their political affiliations. Apparently, they slant 4:1 for Republicans, largely because of the GOP's taxation policies for wealthy.

Athletes have more political clout than actors, I believe. This is largely because of the perception of the athlete as middle-class, I think. Realistically, though, we need to remember that they're all about money these days - and, as such, for public policies that help them keep more of their money.

Did you see the recent hulabaloo about Carlos Delgado refusing to stand for "God Bless America." He disagrees with the war (via a longstanding disagreement with the US Government's policy on Vieques) and will not be in the dugout or on the field while that plays. Fascinating.

Keep it up, Bill. I'd forgotten how good a writer you are.