Barack Obama

I’m officially coming out.

I like Obama.

He might actually give me reason to vote (gasp!).

Still, I must admit that it hasn’t been easy this past week. The ugliness of the South Carolina primary certainly threatened to push me back into my characteristic cynicism regarding all things related to presidential politics and voting. But so far I’m hanging onto some hope that things can really change…it’s a little scary. My cynicism was (is) rooted pretty deep.

So what is it about Obama that gives me some hope?

First off, I do appreciate his perspective on issues I find important – Iraq, healthcare, education, poverty, the environment.

But that’s just part of it. There are other candidates with similar views, but I still find myself very cynical whenever they speak. When Obama speaks I really do feel some hope rising up in me – that just doesn’t happen with any of the other candidates. And it hasn’t happened for me with any political candidate since I’ve been able to vote.

So what is it? Is it just his charisma? His speaking ability? (which is a wonderful change) His race? His relative youth? His faith?

I’d be lying if I said those things do not factor in for me. I do particularly appreciate his articulate expression of the interaction of his Christian faith and politics (see this important speech). I also favor his relative youth and his intelligent communication skills. But really there’s something more, something less tangible. I’ve had trouble putting my finger on what exactly that “something” is. However, today I read an endorsement of Obama by the author Toni Morrison and I think she comes very close to describing the reason for my hope. Morrison writes:

“In addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which, coupled with brilliance, equals wisdom.

Yes! That’s it! And it makes all the difference.

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11 Responses

  1. Funny story – last week, someone called my work line and asked, “Is this Barack Obama’s church?” “No,” I said, stalling and trying to figure out if the voice was a friend pranking their church secretary. The caller continued, “Well, do you know what church Obama goes to?” “No, I don’t.” Dial tone. I guess someone just thought they could call any church in Illinois to find the presidential candidate!

  2. I too am rooting for Obama after a LOT of consideration. I think for me he represents a bi-partisanship and a desire for a rational (yet firm) middle ground on issues rarely if ever seen in a politician of his stature.
    Did you know that half the South think he’s Muslim. Where this rumor got started I have no idea, but I heard on CNN that this rumor has spread so badly that Obama was fighting it by attending church in South Carolina, and inviting the press there. It’s so ridiculous.

  3. Well, you know I’m on board.

    I think you are right that the most exciting aspect of his candidacy is something that is very hard to describe. I love the Morrison article. “Wisdom via creative brilliance” is as good a phrase as any, but I’m not sure even that gets right to the heart of it. This difficulty is what leads people to compare him to others. He isn’t JFK. Or MLK. Or anyone else. He is Barack Obama, and I think that is enough.

    But you are also right not to make the mistake of deciding that, just because his most intriguing characteristics are difficult to describe, those characteristics aren’t real, or don’t matter, as the Clintons and many conservatives are now saying. It is very real.

    So I have a hard time not feeling like February 5 is a critical day for the future of this country. What would it be like for the face of Barack Obama to be the face of our country to the world? What would it be like to listen to him give a State of the Union address? How much could be done for the environment, the poor, our education system, etc. with Obama leading a Democratic house and senate?

  4. I’m having a really hard time deciding who to vote for, but I, too, have noticed that “thing” about Obama that makes me root for him and seriously consider voting for him. To be honest, there’s not another candidate I’ve seriously considered because every time I see them I’m like, “Blech.” But with Obama, no matter what I read about where he stands on issues that are at odds with where I stand on that issue, I’m still rooting for him. And there are several issues that I think he’s right on the money.

    I’m afraid to believe that he really is different from every other politician. I’m afraid to believe that the great liberal=Democrat, conservative=Republican, there-can-be-no-compromise-on-the-issues divide can be bridged. But, oh, if it could be…

  5. I understand Amy – I’m afraid too. There’s definitely part of me that doesn’t want to believe…

  6. Just one more comment on this from me. I should add that I’m supporting Obama for the Democratic nomination (and overall), but I’m supporting McCain for the Republican, and the thing I find most interesting is that I really like both of them. I respect both of them.
    I don’t think that Clinton can beat McCain in the end, personally. Just mho.

  7. I agree. I don’t think Clinton can beat McCain.

    Obama can.

    But can Obama beat Clinton? I don’t know…

  8. I want to like McCain. I even watched the debate last night. But I liked him less after that.

    He’s probably better than the others, and I think I like the Real McCain. But I don’t like the I’m Trying To Win the Republican Nomination McCain.

  9. I completely agree with you Mark. He’s trying to seem more conservative than he is, to get the nomination. I think once the nomination is sealed he’ll go back to the McCain I like to get the undecided vote. Politics are a dirty business that’s for sure. Coulter says she’ll vote for Clinton over McCain (yeah, right) because she thinks Clinton is more conversative than McCain. I actually laughed out loud because she a (small) point.

  10. I had the same thought Mark during the SOTU – what would it be like to hear Obama deliver the SOTU? I feel like it would be an *event*.

  11. I think they all suck honestly. This election is a hopeless shithole with no good outcome. Obama over Hillary, definitely. Do Republicans have the answers…Probably not any more than the Dems, save a few things. Did I ever mention I hate the two-party system and think it is self-defeating and divisive? Yes, self-defeating as in we don’t need it to survive as a democracy! The founding fathers were categorically incorrect in thinking this type of division was a valid check or balance. Anyway, we don’t know jack about these people except what we see on their ad campaigns, essentially, which doesn’t give us a shadow of a clue as to what they will actually do in office. (Obama says vague things like “We can do it together” or “We will be united”. Gee, that’s real meaningful!…So you can’t trust anyone. The Bush I voted into office 8 years ago is now undermining, or should I say defiling constitutionally guaranteed American privacy rights by promising to veto a law that prevents phone companies from being sued for giving the government information about private calls that violate the companies’ privacy policies which subscribers are legally entitled to. So what’s next, should we be like London and have cameras on every street corner? Conservatives complain about big government on our backs, but isn’t that what Bush is doing? Isn’t that what these kinds of laws are leading up to? That, in the long run is worse than a terrorist attack–the terrorist becomes the government, and right now I’m feeling pretty damn terrorized by our government. If Obama will do something about all that and the crazy “priveleges” the executive branch (Bush admin) has given itself, he has my vote, but because it’s so hard to get a bill back on the floor in Congress I doubt anything can be done. On the other hand, I think Obama is mostly all talk and probably has little or no substance to accomplishing meaningful changes, not that our government is really capable of that anyway. As for McCain, he’s not liberal enough I think. Actually, I would have liked Ron Paul better, just based on his statements of beliefs. But I hate this election so much I didn’t vote in the primary. Just who the f**k is possibly better than the other bastards? I don’t care anymore; this country is screwed and it’s totally out of my hands. No matter who you vote for we’re screwed.

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