I won’t lie. I pretty much despise politics in all its forms, especially when it’s been force fed down my throat as much as it has been, oh, since about 2000. And even more so since the 2008 presidential race started heating up way way back in 2006.
This weekend though, a photo of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama riding a bike in Chicago really got me thinking. The photo surfaced on the Internet, and pundits from far and wide did their absolute best to poke fun at the dude. The Chicago Tribune knocked his low seat, while Oregon Live knocked his low air pressure. Meanwhile, The Huffington Post debated the decision to wear jeans while riding a bike. Me, I’m just glad I can somewhat relate to one of those aliens. However miniscule that relation might be.
Now granted, Barack’s outfit is very Jerry Seinfeld-ish, but I’m a Seinfeld fan, so I’ll let that slide. And I’m also of the opinion that dressing like a dork beats dressing like a dumb jock any day of the week. (Unless it’s Halloween. Then all bets are off.) Now I’m no political pundit, but I might know a thing or two about bicycles, so I’ll put my knowledge to good use and pundit-ize the Barack bike photo. Here goes.
“It looks like someone that owns a bike and rides it maybe 5-10 times a year for leisure.”
But the right to punditry isn’t my point here. I’m addressing a far bigger issue. That of shit talk. After reading the mass of shit talk regarding Barack Obama’s decision to go for a bike ride on Sunday, I was again reminded of what the Internet’s (and by extent, the media’s) evolved purpose is: to ridicule. The entire world (not just BMX) had an amazing opportunity to put this global tool of information to positive use, and instead, news outlets throughout the world hired people with opinions, asked them to hunt and gather information on the Internet, and then add their own two cents on the subject. Some call themselves ‘political pundits’; some call themselves ‘bloggers’ and some maybe use that good old-fashioned term ‘critic.’ I’m going out on a limb here and giving them a new term; digital hunter/gatherer/two-centers. But there does exist some good behind this newfound form of opportunisitic character-bashing on the Internet; it extended an (albeit hapahazard) path for me to learn more about actual stances from Barack Obama on real issues that matter to me, such as bike riding.
Did you know that Barack Obama is the only presidential candidate to encourage bicycle transportation? Neither did I. It’s part of his energy platform. He’s a supporter of bicycling and mass transit. Here’s the direct quote: “As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account. Obama will build upon his efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks, and he will also re-commit federal resources to public mass transportation projects across the country. Building more livable and sustainable communities will not only reduce the amount of time individuals spent commuting, but will also have significant benefits to air quality, public health and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
So he’s pro-bike, and on occasion, he might look a little goofy while riding his bike. I can sure as hell relate to both of those. Thanks in part to the hunter/gatherer/two-centers for filling me in, however haphazardly it might have happened…