Monday, July 7, 2008

When national politics alienates...

So, I think I'm done with the presidential election. I'm really, really trying to like Obama, but he continues to fuck up royally--regarding FISA, faith-based organizations, reproductive issues, etc. etc. and so forth, all in the interest of pandering to people who would never vote for him anyway. I don't live in a swing state, so for whom to vote doesn't have to be a gut-wrenching decision for me--at face value McCain sucks more on, well, EVERYTHING, and I'd never in a million years actually cast a vote for him, but Obama in this incarnation does not represent my politics, and the amount of misogyny that many of his supposedly-progressive supporters were all too happy to engage in during the primary was incredibly demoralizing. Not to mention, the policy of complete non-criticism and metaphorical wagon-circling to which some of his followers are now subscribing really scares the shit out of me. My vote's not completely committed to the Greens (I still need to vet McKinney properly) or to abstention, but Obama had some serious damage control to do to earn my vote post-primary, and he just hasn't been doing it. But like I said, I'm not in a swing state, so I can feel free to vote closer to my real political stance, which is honestly a relief.

All of this to say that, since I've not been given sufficient reason to invest myself in the national campaign, I'm looking forward to using that energy elsewhere. I used to do a lot more work for our local Planned Parenthood than I do now, and with even the Democrat candidate taking up right-wing frames and religious-y rhetoric on choice, it seems like they'll need as much volunteer power as they can get.

The other thing I'm looking forward to doing is contributing toward graduate students' efforts to unionize when I join their ranks this fall. A few months ago I had coffee and what felt like the beginnings of a very aggressive organizing relationship with one of the lead union people--you know, I understand where she's coming from and am just as pro-union as she, but I found and continue to find the hard-sell approach to these things distasteful; she was trying to get me to agree to head up organizing another department in my first freaking semester of grad school. She's attempting to seal this deal a good five months before I've even enrolled. And then she had the gall to get sort of sullen when I refused to commit to her grand plan, seeing as how I'M NOT EVEN AN OFFICIAL GRADUATE STUDENT YET AND MAY NEED SOME TIME TO ACCLIMATE WHEN I AM jesus.

I mean, obviously keeping people focused on the unionization goals is necessary if you're an organizer, but fucking hell, can you at least express some basic respect for the boundaries that might be necessary for me to draw, depending on how fast I get a handle on this whole going-to-grad-school thing? Oy.

Okay, this is turning into more of a rant than the expression of enthusiasm for the grad student unionization cause that I wanted it to be, but yeah, if you know activists, you know that some of them can be just the most amazingly annoying people, if just in their activist capacity.

Trying personalities notwithstanding, I think I'd be able to make a good, solid contribution to the work the union's presently doing. It's a cause I've been aware of for a number of years, and it would give me another reason to abstractly root for getting a Democrat into the White House (hello, NLRB) in the face of feeling ambivalent about this candidacy in particular. I've thus been trying to more formally acquaint myself with matters of academic labor lately--I'm still in the midst of Bousquet's How the University Works--and I hope that will make me a more effective advocate on the grad student level. And actually, reading a bunch of academic blogs over the past year has been a wonderful education in itself. I really am looking forward to putting that education to good use.

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Reductionism who in the what now?