Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why Obama, Why Now

Between now and November, you're going to be seeing a lot of fluff and stuff about the major candidates:  who misspoke when, who's staff is doing what to who, etc. etc.  You'll be seeing and urged to read all manner of policy papers and positions.  Various ads will be on your TV, radio and in your newspapers telling you that that guy is plain awful, and our guy is the greatest candidate ever to walk upon the Earth. All very important, but when it comes right down to it you're going to be asked to separate the chaff from the wheat and decide who gets your vote.
I'm going to make my pitch for that vote to go to Barack Obama.
First, a little about myself.  I've been active in Democratic campaigns for 36 years, mainly in California and now in my adopted home state of Oregon, so understand up front that this is not exactly going to be unbiased.  I've worked in campaigns for everything from state legislators to Presidents.  I've heard great speakers and ones that desperately need help to keep from putting the audience to sleep.  I've been chairman of a county Democratic Central Committee and currently an elected Democratic precinct committee person going on my 3rd term.
I've been around a while and I'm not given to seeing any candidate as a messiah or savior, having seen all of them as the humans they really are.
This year has been a strange one for me, in that I would have been happy no matter who had won the Democratic nomination but my choice from before he even announced was Barack Obama.  Was it his speaking style?  No, I've heard better.  Is it his outstanding stands on the issues?  No, he's kind of liberal some of the time, moderate most of it, and only varied by slight degrees from everyone else who ran as a (D).  I even understand that he'll be fortunate indeed if he gets near half of what he's promising on the campaign trail through Congress and sent to his desk to sign if he wins in November. 
What got me on the Obama bandwagon was a simple message that he's never wavered from:  we really need to pull this country together if we're ever going to get anything done.   Now, I'm a happy partisan and unabashed liberal who will battle any Republican or conservative anywhere, anytime beit in print, on the air, online, or in person.  It's a fun way to pass the time because neither me or you reading this (unless you're an elected officeholder, of course) really get to set national policy.  However, when that battling isn't just among us pundits - paid or amateur - that means the country is in a bad way.  We just can't afford to keep going this way.
I know, I know - every candidate for President promises to bring us all together and claims to be "a uniter, not a divider"  in one form or another.  The difference with Obama is that this guy really means it.   He said it giving the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention and he's repeated it everyplace he's stopped during the campaign.  I've even seen him say it live and in person and what struck me most is that this is no put-on.  Listen close when he talks too - he doesn't say he will do this, he calls on us to do it with him.
Don't misunderstand this position - this doesn't mean the man is a wuss who will avoid all conflict to achieve this unity.  He understands that there are people with a vested interest in the divide and conquer approach to American politics and he doesn't give them even the hint of a break.  What they represent is mainly themselves and really couldn't care less if the country does well as long as they do.  If that means they'll lie to you, let the lies flow.  If that means fostering distrust and dislike, then pump up the hate.  I don't need to tell you who they are.  They speak from the floors of Congress, the boardrooms, out of your radios, and through your cable.  Their country is the United States of Me and they will do any and everything to take care of #1.  Those people we don't unify with, those people we stop.  Now.
As to the rest of us, I and I think Obama consider us all patriots who want to see the best for our county - we just disagree how to get there.  We can talk about the disagreements but we must seek common ground for our common good.  We have a great country but we also have great problems that need fixing.  We'll never do that as long as half of us is busily tearing down what the other half is building.  Imagine what we can do if the whole of us are the ones solving problems and building a better nation.
Barack Obama is imagining that, and so am I which is why I'll be voting for him in November.  I hope you'll join me.

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