Giving Something Up

I am not a card-carrying anything. Even my video store membership is in peril. Neither am I a political animal. Usually I vote according to my needs -- not according to polls, scandals or the great

I am not a card-carrying anything. Even my video store membership is in peril.

Neither am I a political animal. Usually I vote according to my needs — not according to polls, scandals or the greater good.

When I vote, I kill. That is, with the assassination of each chad I sometimes feel I'm poking away at something so nefarious — gouging out its eyes even — that voting's emotional and violent.

Kinda like life in America. Unless, of course, you live in Iraq. Then sometimes voting leaves me feeling empty and wanting, like after a round of bad sex.

That's the point, I think, for people like me. For the wage slaves and the imminently homeless, we who are marginalized by mainstream, the insurance dependant underrowers of America, "the process" and "the system" are ingeniously designed to aggravate us so we give up and drop off.

It makes it hard on a black woman like me to go bravely into that polling booth.

Let's face it: Chances are slim that a presidential candidate will get anywhere near the Zip code of meeting the everyday needs of everyday Americans. But we do our parts, anyway, don't we?

I do. Which makes me mad as hell at a motherfucker like Sen. John Kerry.

That goes for all the rest of the wet-noodle-white-guys who couldn't muster enough piss to put out George Bush if he was on fire.

I never bought the hype of all the well-meaning white social clubs abounding around the myth of Howard Dean. In the rearview, I'm glad he melted down before he got any deeper in the three rings. Can you imagine that cat under pressure in the Big House?

There's another old white man I can't picture living there, either.

In wishy-washiness on the war and national security and because of his reactionary tactics to Bush's administration, Kerry's not looking good to me in November. Neither is Bush.

But the point is to get Bush out. Question is, how good or "presidential" is his potential replacement?

Kerry supported the war but today says he did it based on faulty intelligence. Whose? His or the Pentagon's? Then he voted for the Patriot Act but now wants to let it expire.

What's the shelf life on political bullshit? Do voters get to check the "sell by" date on candidates?

Not a chance. We're just getting into the thick of it.

Kerry's telling as many lies in his campaign commercials as did Bush, according to a May 25 New York Times story. In a survey of 1,026 voters from 18 swing states, 61 percent said they believed Kerry's false claims that Bush favored sending jobs overseas and 72 percent said they believed 3 million jobs were lost during Bush's term.

Those numbers don't jibe with numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the same survey, 46 percent said they believed Kerry wants to raise gas taxes 50 cents a gallon, assertions made by Bush's people based on old and flimsy information.

Analysts make millions convincing candidates to behave precisely like one another but to package that sameness (ruthlessness and lies) as something else, something deceptively better. It's not a gift; it's a grift.

Kerry does get points for actually serving in the military in one of the most divisive and deadly conflicts in my lifetime since, well, Iraq. But a military record only goes so far, especially when, as with Kerry, there's an air of the switch-up on everything else.

Now Kerry's searching for a centrist message like it's spare change at the bottom of a deep pocket. He's trying to court Democrats (read that as moderate Republicans) wary of his liberal skin.

Seems that to beat Bush all another white man has to do is tell the truth, engage with real people, not give billion-dollar tax breaks to his pals, not put oil before people and take care not to surround himself with people belonging to secret, ultra-conservative societies. So far, there's only marshmallow speak.

"We're a can-do people," Kerry says in his latest ad. "We just need to believe in our optimism."

I'm optimistic Kerry will be practicing law this time next year if he doesn't stand for and stick to something.

Good luck, Jughead. You, too, Kerry.

See you in November. I'll be the black woman givin' somethin' up. Like always.

Kathy's collection of columns, Your Negro Tour Guide: Truths in Black and White, is available in bookstores now.