The Season of Change

1 Nov

Since I’ve been rather busy the past month, I’ve neglected to blog about two things I really wanted to talk about: my short trip home (touched upon in my 12 of 12) as well as the election.

If there is any common theme between New England foliage and this election, it’s change. And so I’ve decided to intertwine the two subjects in one post.

Some leaves photographed at home. Walking around New England in October is like bathing in rainbows, although a lot less gay-sounding.

Fall foliage is an interesting phenomenon. People fret over how vibrant the colours will be every year, when they’ll hit peak, etc. They cite a lot of meterological factors but it’s always impossible to predict. This year, the colours seemed to be progressing more slowly than usual due to some warm (and dry) late September temperatures, but suddenly the rain and cool air came rushing down and the foliage began progressing towards peak more quickly than usual.

Although some years are better than others, I think it’s impossible to see anything less than the most vibrant fall colours in New England. I actually noticed slightly fewer reds this year than last year; I noticed that one or two red trees in particular that I had photographed in 2007 were orange this year. Compare the same tree, photographed in 2007 and 2008.

Of course, the orange is just as beautiful, if not moreso.

I guess I have a thing for colours. When I take pictures, my eye is very frequently captured by colour and it often shapes the composition of my photographs.

That’s a shot of Lake Winnepesaukee in Alton.

Since I wasn’t about to sit around at home during the entire weekend, my mom and I made some requisite leaf-peeping drives in the area. Interestingly, we noted a wide variety of colour quality. We crossed over to Woodstock in Vermont and drove some lovely backroads, but the colours were surprisingly weak. I thought that maybe the valley had had an early frost.

On the other hand, the White Mountains were aflame with colour, at least south of the notches. North of Franconia and Crawford Notch, almost all the reds had already disappeared. Still pretty, though. But the best colour was easily in the Conway area. The colours in the Lakes Region were also fantastic, although just short of full peak by a few days.

Ahh, New Hampshire…

Anyway, driving all these backroads, we also saw a lot of lawn signs for Obama and McCain (a relatively rare phenomenon in California, it seems). At one spot along Route 16 in Tamworth, where a lot of leaf-peepers stop to get a shot of Mt. Chocorua, the farmer who owns the property had placed an Obama sign in his field for all the leaf-peepers to see.

We also went to the Sandwich Fair, which typically isn’t my cup of tea because of all the people and the general lack of excitement (although I did get head-butted by a horse… no injuries), but in the centre of town there were two little political camps campaigning for the two parties. As we passed by the Democratic camp, they suggested I take a picture with Obama, but I politely declined and just took a picture of him.

Anyway, that brings us to the second topic of this post — the election.

I typically describe myself as a moderate libertarian. I tend to follow the mold of “classical liberalism,” which embraces the ideals of individual liberty, limited government, and personal responsibility. Interestingly, I wouldn’t say that my political beliefs necessarily reflect my personal moral values. For example, while I am pro-life in principle, I don’t think there’s enough legal reason to ban abortion. Of course, that’s an incredibly complicated issue.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where I lie on the political spectrum, especially if one attempts to confine me to the ridiculous left/right line. According to my most recent Political Compass results, I score a 4.50 on the x-axis (economic right) and a -2.72 on the y-axis (social libertarian). The scores are out of 10.

I would say that I generally can see both sides of most arguments, and am infinitely frustrated by those who can’t. While I favour the freedom offered by capitalism, is the idea of collectively providing for the poor so outrageous? While I think that the second amendment is a fundamentally good idea, is it so ridiculous to suggest methods of decreasing the sad amount of gun violence in this country? (Ironically, the fervent gun rights people are probably the least likely to revolt against the government. The founding fathers were the original unpatriotic “angry left.”)

I defy labels. I despise political correctness and affirmative action quotas. I am anti-dealth penalty and a pacifist. I oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants but I am not xenophobic and also recognize that mass deportation would be unfeasibly expensive. I am pro-environment. I believe strongly in the free market, despite its flaws. I think spending should be cut BEFORE taxes. And there’s a lot of spending that can be cut. I don’t think any single group should get a tax break, be they rich or poor. I think people should be able to marry whomever they want. I think the United States has an obligation to help promote liberty, peace, and well-being across the world, but that our current foreign policy is incredibly dangerous and misguided.

I think education is incredibly, incredibly important to the nation as a whole and not enough politicians give a rat’s arse about it.

Now, while I actually have a strong sense of enmity towards politics and politicians in general, this election has brought a lot out in me. I should note that I used to admire John McCain when he ran for President back in 2000, because I associated with his “RINO” identity and his moderate positions. Unfortunately, as the Daily Show pointed out, McCain has basically abandoned everything he ever stood for. I was actually just watching the documentary “Why We Fight” (2005) and was amazed at how candid and critical McCain was of the military-industrial complex. Of course, that was before he started running for president.

Heck, even his positions on torture and offshore drilling have changed since the primaries. Rather than moving towards the centre like most presidential candidates tend to do after the primaries, McCain has only moved farther and farther to the right. His campaign, and more specifically the people who actually buy into the BS it spews, have made me very angry. Recently, a post on the NH forum of the city-data.com message boards (which I frequent) asked the following question:

Just wondering what is happening in NH as far as the election goes. I have seen several “polls” which are showing that Obama has/will win NH I thought and was hoping that NH was still a predominantly Republican state. Am I wrong or are things changing rapidly?

This post, while not infuriating in itself, spawned replies like this one:

A couple of extra footnotes. Personally I would prefer Palin as our next president. But if Obama wins I predict some of the following to happen in NH and the USA;

  • Private Property Ownership will cease to exist as we know it today.
  • Reparations will be paid to slave descendents
  • Israel will cease to exist
  • The UN will control our military more
  • Energy Companies will be nationalized
  • free speech will be greatly hindered
  • Right to own a firearm will be taken away.
  • Our borders will no longer be secure
  • The Obama party will encourage illegal immigration

Since this was the same kind of insane sh*t I’ve been hearing for the past few months, especially from my own father and other relatives, a lot of anger had built up inside me and I was forced to vent in my reply post:

These political threads always make me angry so I usually try to avoid them, but people really need to learn to stop being so ridiculously alarmist.

First of all, there is no such thing as a “red state” or a “blue state.” If you look at any election map, you will see that there are Republican-leaning areas and Democratic-leaning areas in every state of the nation. Moreover, a lot of Americans are independents who vote either way.

The concept of “red states” and “blue states” is one used by idealogues to further polarize this country, and used by the media to simplify and stereotype. It’s also worth noting that just because a particular party may win in certain states, it doesn’t mean that people in those states share the same ideals. For example, the religious right and neoconservatives make up a much smaller portion of the Republican Party in New Hampshire than they do in other states (say, Texas).

The reason that New Hampshire has been voting out Republicans for the past two years is because many traditional conservatives in this state do not share the current national party’s support of an extremely expensive and ideologically misguided foreign policy, curtailing of civil liberties in the name of national security (or religious beliefs), and extensive government meddling in the economy. In this sense, many NH conservatives are more faithful to the roots of the Republican Party; that is, how the party was before it integrated the southern Dixiecrats in the ’60s and ’70s.

While I’m disheartened that NHites are voting out Republicans on the local level, since they have nothing to do with national policies and are usually socially moderate, fiscally conservative politicians, this is just part of a temporary backlash against the party. NH is, always has been, and always will be an independent, libertarian-minded state that will vote for either party.

I am voting Libertarian in the election because my views are not particularly compatible with those of either candidate. However, I am seriously infuriated by the Republican’s party continual move towards the far right, utilizing right-wing propoganda and fear tactics to insinuate that Obama somehow sympathizes with terrorists or is going to turn our nation into a “socialist” society (the horror!). And don’t get me started on Palin… the woman represents the most right-wing element of the party and her knowledge of federal government and foreign affairs is pretty pathetic. If you’re worried about your right of free speech, you should be worried about Palin, not Obama.

All this talk about “real Americans” and “anti-American elites” is the most divisive, Orwellian rhetoric I’ve heard of in the US since McCarthyism. The McCain campaign’s only tool for acquiring voters is fear, and their campaign has focused almost entirely on trying to make people afraid of Obama rather than actually talking about concrete plans for repairing the country and moving on from this rather depressing decade. John Kerry’s entire platform in 2004 was essentially “Bush sucks, so vote for me,” and we saw how well that campaign turned out.

Whoever wins, we are not going to turn into a communist or fascist state, have our free speech or right to bear arms taken away, or be overridden by terrorists crossing unsecure borders. Don’t be ridiculous. I can’t stand partisan types because they attack the other party for things they would defend if conducted by their own party. So what if Obama wins? New Hampshire voted for Bill Clinton, and under that Democratic administration we had relative peace and economic prosperity, including a surplus. Sure, things might not turn out great if a Democrat wins, but how the heck do you know they’ll be better if a Republican wins? The past 8 years certainly haven’t been peachy keen.

Sorry for going off on a rant here, I don’t want to incite an argument with anyone. But I feel compelled to respond because I think that my views reflect those of a lot of New Hampshirities who will NOT be voting Republican this year. Just my two cents.

I disagree with Obama on several issues, primarily economic, but I don’t think McCain’s positions are any better. I voted Libertarian for all the major offices on the ballot; although if I was less certain that Obama was going to win New Hampshire, I might have thought twice about that. But I feel good about voting on principle and the Libertarians need all the votes they can get in order to achieve recognition and money. God I hope the two-party system dies soon.

As I mentioned, a lot of my relatives, including my own father, are rather diehard Republicans. Not really of the socially conservative kind, but very partisan nonetheless. It’s very frustrating to put up with people who are so narrow-minded; and that includes my liberal friends, too.

I was very glad when Colin Powell appeared on Meet the Press. I agree with pretty much everything he said, and I think his comments about Islam were wonderful. He belongs to a list of moderate Republicans whom I admire more than any other group of politicans. I just hope the party doesn’t keep moving to the right when they abandon ship.

While Obama’s lack of experience is a legitimate concern (although not really compared to Palin’s lack of experience AND intelligence), I recently came across something which pointed out that experience isn’t always everything. Obama has more in common with Abraham Lincoln than you might realize.

I did vote Republican for most of the state offices, in large part for the reasons I mentioned in my quoted post above. I am also a bit wary about one party controlling the White House and both houses of Congress (like the Republicans in 2002-2006), but who knows what will happen.

If the current polls are to believed, this will be the outcome of the presidential election on Tuesday:

I do despise the red/blue state concept, but I use it here for recognition purposes. I hope that we are moving towards eliminating this kind of categorization and redrawing the political map.

If you do like colours, though, check out my photo albums from my autumnal trip back home:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

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One Response to “The Season of Change”

  1. squamloon 2 November 2008 at 08:53 #

    Okay. I guess I’ll vote for you when you run. ;^)

    Well done. Good to see you bathe in shades of gray.

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