November 3, 2010

Goodbye Costumes, Hello Politics

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This weekend was my last ever college Halloween. After a failed foray into the wonderful world of bar hopping, Saturday night found me sitting on the stoop of my apartment building in high-waisted hot-pink Salvation Army pants, counting the number of slutty Chilean miners who walked past. F.Y.I.: It was a lot. In the interest of full disclosure, I was a hip-hop grandma. Sexy, right?

It was a relatively uneventful evening. My roommate and I got called hipsters because we pointed out that a cabal of lesser Wes Anderson characters was missing a Tenenbaum. A man dressed like Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York told me I looked like someone famous. He couldn’t remember who, though. So if you’re reading this, Mr. Grad Student Man, please do shoot me an e-mail. No romantic overtones, I promise. I just really want to know. Once my uncle said I looked like Lauren Bacall but that is because he is not quite right in the head. My brother says I look like Fred Savage. That, I can believe.

This weekend was also Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity. You’d think I’d be all over that with the rest of the Sun opinion staff, right? I am, after all, “an unrepentant far-left propagandist.” (Somebody on the Sun website really called me that. Holler for real!). But I have some mixed feelings. On the one hand, of course, boo Glenn Beck. On the other, so much cynicism! And all that talk about centrism and moderation, man. I loves me some reasonable discourse and all, but I just can’t get excited about being centrist. I’m not “far-left,” either, despite what my new best-est Tea Party friends would have you believe. I’m a Democrat, and I’m left-leaning, and I guess I’m just a little disappointed that we show up in droves for a nebulous concept like “sanity,” but we aren’t motivated for shit when it comes to real, concrete issues like, oh, “ending the war” or “protecting the health of women” or “letting gay people get married.” It seems like this rally demonized the people who are doing that work. Sometimes, you need “radical” and “unreasonable” people to effect actual change. And as much as I loathe the Tea Party, my real beef is with their lack of a real, cohesive platform. Okay, that’s not my real beef. But it’s definitely part of it.

I mean, yeah, Jon Stewart is a funny guy. He’s smart and I like his show a lot. But this rally just seemed so silly and pointless. And depressing. And yes, I know that the rally was inspired by Glenn Beck’s equally ill-defined rally, and that Stewart and Colbert aren’t politicians: so maybe I’m just completely missing the point.

I just really hope that it inspired people to vote. By the time this article runs, the midterm elections will be over. I mailed in my ballot last week, and I’ve been waiting on pins and needles ever since. The anticipation isn’t like it was in 2008, when we could feel the optimistic winds of change, or whatever. No, this is a sinister sort of anticipation, the kind where you’re pretty sure something awful is going to happen and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.

And I guess that was my main issue with this rally. There was no hope or inspiration. It was resigned and a little heartless, even. This whole election cycle has been so inundated with ineffectual candidates and “holding your nose” and “picking the lesser of two evils.” I don’t want to concede issues that are important to me! I don’t want to have to compromise my ideals! Sanity is all well and good, but passion is really important. That is maybe the cheesiest thing I’ve ever said in my entire life.

Basically what I am trying to say is “grow a backbone Democrats!” and also “I hope I don’t have to move to Canada.”

Elana Dahlager is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at edahlager@cornellsun.com. Nutshell Library appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: Elana Dahlager