Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hope, Healing and High Honor

I’ve always been a political junkie. While I tend to lean left, I really try to do my research. This year, I was looking at Edwards first but after taking some of those surveys on candidates' positions, I chose Chris Dodd as my candidate. Truth be told, another candidate kept coming out first, but for some reason I wasn’t paying attention. But Dodd got 4.5 votes in the primaries so I revisited those surveys to see whose policies I agreed with and Barack Obama still kept coming up first. On the afternoon of December 31st, I sat down with my laptop and reviewed the websites of Obama, Clinton and Edwards and researched where they stood on the issues. The first thing I noticed was that the Obama site was incredibly well done, especially laying out his plan and his positions.

I decided to support Obama and then really started to pay attention. Then I couldn’t stop paying attention. I wanted to hear him speak, I wanted to know more about what he thought, I read his book. I started reading other websites that I’d never even heard of a month before. I am lucky to belong to a non political message board with some of the smartest political junkies assembled and I really learned how to educate others. I bit my nails during the primaries. I pulled on my lip during the debates. I haven’t sucked my thumb since I was six but if there was one more debate, it was either that or start smoking.

The first time I was able to vote legally was the year Carter ran against Reagan. I didn’t like either and hated the fact that I wasted my first vote on John Anderson. I’ve been interested in every election since but I’ve never felt this invested. I’ve never contributed to a political candidate until this year. But, the country that I love was one I feared was becoming unrecognizable after eight years of Bush/Cheney/Rove. How could we find a candidate that was intellectually capable of solving their mess and at the same inspire people enough to want to solve the mess together? There is no denying that Al Gore and John Kerry were smart people but they only made me want to vote for them because they weren’t George W. Bush. I craved for something more.

Obama has been mocked for being all about the speech and all about hope. But when you are facing the problems that America now faces, shouldn’t the first thing necessary be hope? Hope is what keeps this country moving when we are fighting two wars and we’re not sure why we didn’t just finish the first one and avoid the second. Hope is what keeps people working hard despite the fact that their college funds or retirement portfolio is shrinking faster than a grape in the sun. Hope is that there is someone out there who can fix it. Hope is personal. Mocking Obama about hope reminds me of that scene in You’ve Got Mail. When Meg Ryan’s character is losing her business to a ruthless competitor, she is told it’s not personal.. it’s business. And she replies, “What does that mean? Whatever else something is, it should start by being personal. It’s personal to me.”

It’s personal to these women here from a recent Obama rally in Virginia. Look at them, they come from different backgrounds, different faiths. The hope in their faces is personal and yet it’s universal too.

But pull back the curtain on the great speech making; the message, the plan, the ideas are all sound. They aren’t perfect but they are a good foundation to stabilize and then grow the economy. When I watch him speak or when I read about his ideas, I don't see a black man. I don't see a liberal man. I see a smart man. I don't want to have a beer with my president, how ridiculous is that? It's the toughest job in the world and it doesn't belong to an average citizen.

The other thing I noticed as I began to follow Obama is how steady he is when chaos reigns around him with unfounded attacks, campaign suspensions, plumbers who weren’t plumbers just famewhores, constant viral email (and I mean viral in the original and cyberspace definitions) that falsely accuse him of everything under the sun and McCain/Palin harping on one stupid thing after another, in some cases outright lying. Obama continued to keep his cool while McCain gritted his teeth. Obama kept telling us what he was going to do to make things better, John McCain kept telling us he knows how to fix it but not how he is going to fix it. There is a crisis a day in the Oval Office, some we probably don't even hear about. It's been noted that Barack Obama had two presidential level decisions to make in the last few months. One was his VP pick and the other was how he handled the economic crisis. He made these decisions with smart, careful deliberation. He did not make these decisions for short term gains at the expense of an actual solution. John McCain cannot claim the same thing. McCain's constant below the surface tension and anger is of great concern to me. It's right there, visible to everyone. Body language is truth, far greater truth than any "risk" that McCain tries to fabricate about Obama's background. Who do I want leading this great country when Putin shows he still doesn't play well with others? Who do I want analyzing the best course of action if the other economic shoe drops? Not someone who can barely control his anger and contempt in front of tens of millions of people in a debate.

On a side note, I’m partial to Michelle Obama too. Probably because I like smart women, like my ConClayve sisters. I couldn’t tell you if Cindy McCain is smart, she's been a mannequin through most of this election. Her heart does not seem to be in this thing and I actually feel a bit sorry for her until she opens her mouth. I think Sarah Palin answered the smart question after her first two interviews.

I find myself thinking about the election all day, when I’m not checking the market. Bill Clinton said yesterday that right now, our country has so much promise and so much peril. I feel that Barack Obama offers the best chance for a new America; one that competes in the quality of its schools, the innovation of its energy policy, the smart use of its military force. An America that stands tall with honor in the eyes of the world, like the man I hope is elected on Tuesday.

Mosaic found on itech news net made by Charis Tsevis. Constitution picture found on thebruceblog.

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The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

Thanks for your blog Corabeth. I can't stop paying attention also. I'm scared to let myself hope for the country again - but I am hopeful in spite of my fear. I know I'll be a basket case on Tuesday night - but I'm looking for it to be my first night of peaceful slumber in President Obama's America too!

Anonymous said...

The Legacy to My (Our) Children

It’s November 2, 2008. When I click on the CNN electoral map, I’ll admit, I click on “All States for Obama.” This isn’t a click based on who I consider my “team” to be. Regardless of what my party of registration is, I have always felt that it was important to take a close look at the issues and the candidates and vote for whomever or whatever I felt was the correct choice. My vote has never, ever followed any “party” line, and I hope that it never does.

My long-time ex, and the father of my children, has recently (in his own words) “abandoned ship USA.” (He’s off to a far happier, dollar-goes-farther, white-man-is-king life in Thailand. Yes, friends, all the dollars that he earned here will be spent abroad.) A die-hard Republican who, when I questioned him about his vote for dub’ya in the last two elections, offered, “I f’d up!” Ah. A true American, indeed.

It made me think. What is my legacy to my children (now 23 and 20 years of age) to be?

And so, that brings me to November 2, 2008. Last night, I went to a crab feed supporting a local Lion’s Club. The son of the owner of the company I work for was there. He has JUST returned from Iraq. I live and work in two different counties, each of them Republican strongholds. The owner of the company I work for is staunchly Republican. Everyone at work knows that I support Obama (as evidenced my bumper sticker). When the son was introduced by the emcee of the crab feed, and they played “God Bless the USA,” everyone in the hall stood up to salute our troops and I think everyone at my company-sponsored-table was shocked to see that I had tears in my eyes. I wasn’t only crying because I was glad that Eric was home, safe and sound. I wasn’t only crying because of the 4000+ of our countrymen-and-women who have died in Iraq. I was crying, too, because I truly do love this country. I want to see us respected by the world again. I want to see us feared by our enemies. I want for us to continue to be a beacon for what is good in this world. I want to have a President that I can be proud of; and who I truly believe will bring intelligence, heart, prudence, honor and respect back to this country. And so, I am voting for Mr. Obama. I choose a legacy of hope over a legacy of fear. I choose a legacy of negotiation to reach a common ground over a legacy of invading sovereign territory. I chose a legacy of helping the common man over helping the rich. (Milton Friedman’s unregulated free market has proven to be a disaster.)

Fifty hours from now, I will be glued to my TV set. November 5 will either be a day of hope, or a day of solemn resignation to the will of the American electorate. I pray that it will be a day that we all will look back upon as the beginning of a new, positive direction for our country.

berkeley said...

Corabeth, thanks for this extraordinary blog. Though I was already familiar with Barack Obama from reading his books, your thought processes as the primaries unfolded were very close to mine.

I tossed the idea of Obama, Clinton and Edwards around in my mind for a long time, studied all of their positions carefully and combed through their records and their experience. There was something appealing about each of them, yet some things that still gave me a bit of pause.

As the primaries unfolded, Edwards fell out of consideration, leaving Clinton and Obama very close in my mind. Both had strong qualities, but Obama kept pulling me to want to hear more from him. In the end I voted for the person I considered to have the right combination of experience, accomplishment, temperment, gravitas, inspirational and persuasive ability, which will be needed both here and on the world stage.

I stand with Barack Obama.

Though I gave him fair hearing and listened to his arguments, I never considered supporting McCain, who I once considered to be a decent and honorable man. Experience without hope, ability without vision, is simply poisonous to this country's future. His choice of Palin, arguably the least qualified V.P choice in recent history, appalled me and told me all I needed to know about his inability to be a thoughtful leader.

In voting for Obama, I voted with my brain and my heart and my trust, and I hope that over the next four years, Barack Obama will prove again and again that my choice was the right one.

Just a brief note to anonymous, if you check back. Wow, what a touching story, just an amazing comment! I wish your comment could stand alone as a blog, because you show so much wisdom and so much heart. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here at the ConCLAYve!