Whether I realized it at the time, or not, I had made this decision in the summer of 2004. Seeing Barack Obama speak before the DNC Covention that year was the first time in my life (I'll be 26 in April) that I had seen a living politician who inspired me. What's more is that his speech surprised my very conservative mother & even elicited a surprised grunt from my moderate father.
As early as spring of 2006 I was walking on the mall with Jacob and we were discussing the viability of the possible Dem candidates for 2008. We discussed Edwards, Obama, Billary, and even Mark Warner of Virginia (who has now announced that he will be Senator Mark Warner come November of 2008, thank you very much [seriously....the RNC is running Jim Gilmore against him? Are they trying to set a new record for biggest landslide defeat? I mean, cmon guys - you're trying too hard. Srsly....]). I was hopeful about Obama but Jacob was reticent about his "electability" in the South. He and I having both grown up in the South, we know as well as anyone what ugly skeletons still lurk in closets there. I kept thinking, sure but the same people that are likely to have racial problems with Barack are the same people who would be voting for a BushClone™ anyway. I told him that my concern was the we would be stupid enough to give Hilary the nomination where, it is without question, she is very very unpopular in certain parts of the country. My parents, for instance, while they aren't enthused about any of the Republican candidates & might actually vote for Barack, are thoroughly opposed to Hilary. It seems like this throughout the South. In Red & Purple states, moderates are willing to come across the isle & vote for Obama but will either stay at home or vote for the other team if its Hilary. Look at South Carolina. Yes there is a large black population there but I don't think the 55% to 27% gap was due to that only - I think the anti-Hilary sentiment plays in there as well.
Anywho - moving on. Other reasons I want prefer Obama over Hilary? Rather than explain myself, I'm going to quote Dave Winer from his blog at Scripting News. If you don't know Dave, & are a geek, well... then you should. A brief description:
Dave Winer, 52, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
Anyway - I generally agree with most things he says & think he makes some very very good points in several posts that he has made over the last several weeks.
From January 22nd:
If Bill Clinton doesn't get off the campaign trail, other leading Dems should get out and stump for Obama, to level the field.
I said this on Twitter and Adam Wygle sent a pointer to this site, that says it better than I could.
22nd Amendment: "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice..."
From January 24th:
A couple of weeks ago I didn't really think Bill Clinton would be a problem if HIllary was elected. I thought he might be a curmudgeonly joke of a First Lady. "There he goes again, he's so funny."
Yeah uh huh. Sure.
I didn't think it was an issue until Bill started throwing the mud so aggressively. Then I noticed that Hillary was talking about the first two terms as a plural accomplishment, as if she were in office then. The more he attacks and the more she takes credit for the first two terms, the more I think they're fucking with the Constitution.
Further, there are good reasons why the first lady (or first spouse) isn't actively involved in running the government, so we don't have to understand how good their marriage is, and they get a tiny bit of privacy. Then we remember how their marriage was in the middle of everything when they were in charge, and god damn we don't need that mess now. We've got so many other things to deal with.
I'm so opposed to them that depending on who the Republicans nominate I could actually see myself voting for a Republican if Hillary is nominated. I can't believe that after listening to her on Meet The Press a couple of weeks ago I was almost ready to vote for her. What a mistake that would have been.
From January 24th:
I was totally on the fence until they started saying he said things he didn't say. Maybe I could have ignored it if he hadn't been saying things we need him to say, imho. The reason people running for office don't try to express complicated ideas is because people like the Clintons will spin it with confusion, and try to convince us he said something idiotic, corrupt or naive.
And even that wouldn't be so bad, but the insult of the Clintons isn't that they're playing unfairly to defeat a good candidate, but they're insulting our intelligence or saying we're ignorant. The only way we could misunderstand what they're doing is if we didn't understand what Obama said, or if we didn't bother to listen. Speaking for myself only, neither are true.
To be clear, Obama said something that Pat Moynihan said first, a NY Democrat known for his intellect. He said that the Republicans had become the "party of ideas." Neither Moynihan or Obama said the ideas were good, or supportable, just that they had some.
The Democrats, Obama said, were not known for having ideas. I would agree with that. Further, the most effective Presidents have been those who could express simple important truths in ways that got people to listen and act. The greatest Presidents are the ones who did that, and who led us to a good place or a necessary one. The two outstanding Presidents in recent history are Roosevelt and Kennedy, both Democrats. That we have a candidate this year who aspires to be a Roosevelt or a Kennedy is something I support. If he doesn't win because the electorate prefers a technocrat and workhorse (Hillary Clinton) so be it. But I'll never forgive the Clintons if they win by dragging our aspirations down into the mud, which after all is what they did when they were in office.
Who knows how their marriage works, and after all this time, who wants to know? I sure don't. But that's becoming a central issue in the 2008 election, as it becomes more clear that the Clinton family is running for a third term, circumventing the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution. It's a bad idea.
If we want to do a great job of digging out of the Bush mess, we'regoing to need great leadership and we're going to have to rally behind and support our leader. Now that the primary campaign may well be entering its final phase, it's clear we're now at a fairly historic moment. My vote goes not just for change, but for hope. Obama might not be the most qualified at a technical level, but we can make up for that. We the people, this is our country, to make something of, or to give up on. A vote for the Clintons is giving up on our greatness. A vote for Obama says "Let's keep going."
From January 27th:
It was an interesting election until the Clintons started calling Obama the nice young African-American candidate. Yeah, I lived in the south long enough to understand what that means. When I went to Tulane I was often explained as soandso's Jewish friend Dave. It meant that I could come over for dinner, but there would never be a marriage.
I should say The Old South. The problem for the Clintons is that the country has changed, as recently as the generation that's now in its early 20s. Because of my experience at Harvard, I know quite a few of them, and I promise you, race doesn't mean to them what it meant when I was their age. To them, this country is a melting pot where we've not only accepted blacks and Hispanics, but people from incredibly far away with incredible complexions, hair, clothes, traditions and names. Amazingly, it's still America.
This time around a young African-American with a funny name is very mainstream, so much so that the blatant appeal racism of the white-haired old man is as ridiculous as the praise Trent Lott gave to the almost-dead holdover from the Old South, Strom Thurmond.
The problem for Clinton is actually much worse, we now saw how she'd govern. Let's say a young African-American Senator from Illiinois got in the way. Would she argue the issues with him in a respectful way? Why bother when you can smear him into silence. Now she spins around like her husband oblivious to what the rest of us suspected, and now knows for sure. If there isn't now a landslide of support for Obama, from all segments of the Democratic Party and from many Republicans, then our country truly is without hope. I suspect that's not what will happen, and we'll see the same kind of weak attempt at redemption that Trent Lott tried after his fiasco. It won't work, because, as with Lott, we've seen too much.
Now do we know that Obama would be any different? We don't. My cynical side says of course he's just like the Clintons say. "Give me a break" -- it's a "fairy tale." (BTW, I'm quoting the Clintons accurately, a form of respect they don't practice.) Maybe they're right. Maybe this is the last (futile) gasp of hope in America for America. Okay, maybe so. But I'm willing to give it one more try. I think it would say to the rest of the world that America has caught up with reality. Look at how we've changed. Maybe they'll put pictures of Obama in their public buildings as they did with JFK. I could think of worse things. (Caroline Kennedy thinks it's possible.)
What a fantastic way to recover from Bush, who so completely represented the greed and arrogance and uglyness of America, to reinvent ourselves in the image of our best, in the image of hope.
Hope, that's the difference, and it's not just a word. We've all been disempowered during the Clinton and Bush years, sidelined. I remember when I gave up on Clinton, it was during the brightest period of hope for the web, when they passed a compromise that said that the First Amendment didn't apply here. There are some things that are so important that you can't compromise on them. It was then that I knew that Clinton (and Gore) were phonies. Maybe Obama isn't. I never thought I'd get another chance to use my vote to say, along with so many other Americans, that we still believe the bullshit they taught us in school and that our grandparents taught us, and that the flag says to us every time we think of what it means. There's a reason this country is so great. We forgot it. Let's remember.
Bill Clinton wanted us to think well of him when he spoke at Davos in 2000. I choose to remember what he said then, Find A Shared Vision. If by any chance he should read this, I'd say it's time for you to not just say those words but to live them.
By the way: the above post by Dave made it to the Huffington Post the next day.
From January 28th:
Most of what Chris Matthews says is mindless trash, but today he pulled out a great analogy immediately after Ted Kennedy's stirring endorsement of Obama.
He compared Hillary Clinton to the character Salieri in the movie Amadeus. Until Mozart came along he was the leading composer in Vienna, but he was just a workman, a technician. Mozart had inspiration, feeling, the spirit. Salieri, even though he lived a long life and Mozart died young, is a footnote to Mozart's lasting greatness.
Matthews nailed it.
Maybe this makes up for his calling the voters of New Hampshire racists because he and every other pundit read the polling data wrong.
This was a very very long post & I understand if few of my readers will consume it all, however, for the few of you that might read it in its entirety I am glad. I thought it was a post that needed to be written.
Please vote for Barack Obama: its the medication this country needs to get over Dubya.