Wednesday, September 3, 2008

An Exile's Election

Have you ever ordered something from a catalog, or a TV offer, or even ebay? Unless you've walked in my and Ambie's shoes you've probably never noticed the horrible little words at the bottom of the page following an asterisk. "available only in the 48 contiguous states" or "not applicable in Alaska or Hawaii" How does that make us feel? Kind of like going to a birthday party when you're five years old and the mom is handing out cupcakes until she gets to you and she says, "sorry, this doesn't apply to you." We're invited to the party, but we can't have the treats.

While away from my home in Alaska, I needed to get a pair of replacement contacts. Since I got them from Costco, I figured it would be easy to order even away from home. I told the young lady at the counter I needed my prescription from Alaska so she pulled out the list of all Costcos and started looking down the column of international stores. No kidding.

"Um, Alaska is one of the 50 states", I said.

"Oh really?" She flipped the list over to the domestic side and when she found it (the second one on the alphabetical list) she said, "Whaddaya know!"

I've lived in both Alaska and Hawaii and so has Ambie. We know what it's like to be "an exile among friends". We feel like we were added just to make it a nice round 50, but we have to stay in the basement when the guests arrive. Never mind that we supply everyone else with oil, natural gas, gold, pineapples, sugar, and really cool places to vacation. Trying to point these things out just makes our case more pathetic, though.

You never hear people from California say, "Hi, I'm from California, you know, where 38% of the nation's oranges come from, where Gary Coleman is from, and where they discovered gold in the 1800s". You only hear stuff like that from states' residents who feel it necessary to "put their home state on the map". You'll hear people from Nebraska proudly say that it is the birthplace of former President Gerald Ford, Malcolm X, and Marge Helgenberger from CSI.

So here we have an election where, no matter who wins, we have a person in charge who represents the "forgotten states". And either one will make history - we never do anything "normally" out here on the fringes.

You know you're from a small state when the news is filled with the notoriety of fellow and/or former residents where ever they are. You'll see articles in the paper about "Hawaii's own" so-and-so "who made it to round 3 in 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'" or "landed the lead role in Florida County Community Theater's version of 'Christmas in the Land of Oz'". So you can imagine the Obama-fest that has been raging here on the islands since his ascendency on the national stage. I drive past his alma mater twice a day (in Hawaii, it's all about where you graduated from highschool). So although he has never said, "da kine" in a speech, worn an aloha shirt on the campaign trail, lauded the virtues of poi, or given a "shaka" out to his supporters, it's all love all the time around here.

Now, Ambie reports that within hours of the Republican VP announcement, there were McCain/Palin T-shirts for sale at the State Fair and everyone was wearing one by the end of the day. Alaska has been a hot topic on the political/environmental front for a while but no one actually from Alaska has ever risen to the forefront because of it until now. (okay, there was Ted Stevens, but he's hardly a household name.) There's finally someone of national note that uses the term "hockey mom" as opposed to "soccer mom". In Alaska, soccer is just a game you play when there's no ice (that's about 45 days) to keep in shape for hockey.

So forget that he's a black, male Democrat and she's a white, woman Republican, because they have a lot in common. They're both relative newcomers to the national stage, they're both running with an old white guy with experience, they'll both be a "first" if elected, and most importantly, they both know what it's like to live under an oppressive and exclusionary catalog ordering regime.


People Power Granny said...

I watched Gov. Sarah Palin give her acceptance speech tonight, and really it was about what I expected, not awe inspiring, but not bad either. I write my perspective in tonight. Please vote in my poll and let me know what you liked or didn't like about her talk tonight.

Aimee said...

So... now we want to hear what the exiles thought of her speech last night...

Heather said...

You have no idea how many people think that New Mexico is also not one of the 50 states. It is astounding. It is so bothersome to me. I graduated from a less than stellar high school however, you better believe I knew that New Mexico was not a place you visit on vacations with a passport in hand.

ray said...

Don't kids sing "fifty, nifty United States..." anymore??

alright, alright.

somehow it seems like since I once lived in alaska I somehow have credibility in my opinion of Sarah Palin. i'll take it.

What she does for the ticket:
-she brings the average age to 58
-she gets people excited about being Republican again
-she vastly improves the photogenicity (it's a word, trust me)of the pair
-she brings back the disenfranchised right who dislike McCain and who were originally going to "sit this one out"
-she distances the ticket from the current administration. she's not one of the good ol' boys of Washington

What she doesn't do for the ticket:
-she doesn't bring in any new or meaningful states. she resonates with states that were already red.
-she doesn't bring in the Hillary voters. They hate the right as much as they hate men. She's a gender traitor to them.
-she doesn't bring a broad range of experience. on the national stage, she's a one issue player.

Personally, I like her. She's smart, tough, is devoted to her big family, and is persuing her dreams in a big way. She's going to do a lot for McCain's chances, but will it be enough? Personally, I don't think so.

Tim said...

As my scouts would say, "true dat." Palin makes it palatable for the true conservatives to vote for McCain.

Not sure I'm convinced an Alaskan would simplify government though. Ever read the fishing regulations? Never been so nervous about casting a line in the water...

ray said...

holy fish! no kidding, tim. maybe she'd do better revising the tax code.

Ambie said...

As you should have been Tim, there are fish and game officers hiding out in the bushes just waiting to pounce on tourists such as yourself.

Ambie said...

Looks can't hurt a campaign either after all isn't it mostly a popularity contest anyway? The homecoming queen is always pretty and social.Obama is toast in my opinion.