Obama and Me

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written here.

I’ve since joined the Obama for America campaign as an IT specialist for the field offices in the area.  I have been helping them in deploying new field offices in South San Francisco and East Palo Alto, where lots of people came in and made over 10,000 calls to New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and Indiana.  It’s been a lot of fun, but the one question I keep getting from some people that I see occasionally, is why.

With the exception of a couple of years of Republican registration, followed by Libertarianism, I’ve been a registered Democrat.  I was raised by a Republican father, and a Democratic mother.  My father and I sided with Reagan in 84 and Bush in 88, I voted Republican during the midterms in 94 and then switched parties in 96 to vote for Bill Clinton, before being convinced by my then-fiancee, Stephanie, to register Libertarian in 98.  Back then, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t crazy about politics even though I stayed in touch with what was going on.  After we split up, I did not re-register for a while there until the Bush v. Gore election of 2000.  I switched back to the Democrats, because the religious right had a nice, tight stranglehold on the Republican party.  I’m a firm believer in the separation of church and state, and I feel that faith and politics have their places… just not in the same place.

Simply put, I’m not supporting Barack Obama because he’s the Democratic candidate for President.  In fact (and you can ask my wife), I wasn’t all that impressed by Obama during the primary season.  The one guy I wanted to run (Wes Clark), didn’t, and ended up supporting Hillary Clinton, instead.  As much as I admired Bill, Hillary was a stark contrast to her husband and I just couldn’t back her, either.  My mother and grandmother, on the other hand, were huge Hillary fans and came down hard on Obama.  I decided, at that time, that I would wait for the dust to settle and see who came out on top.  And when Obama became the presumptive nominee, it was time for the party to unite and win this thing.

So yes… in the beginning, you might say I supported him because he won the nomination.  During the Democratic National Convention, however, as they were rolling out their platform before America, I learned a lot more about him than I did during the primaries.  The primaries were hard-fought and there was a metric asston of bullshit that flew between the candidates.  As during the general election run from the conventions, with all the mud flying, it’s really difficult to get someone’s story without it being tainted by others.  At least during those four days in Denver, there was no more bickering.  I finally got to learn and appreciate what we had in this guy, and while I really dispised Biden during the primaries… his acceptance speech really wow’ed me a great deal.  I began to see both these guys in a new light.

I have never, in my life, been energized about a presidential campaign so much as to join one.  But then again, a lot has changed since 2000 and 2004.  A little television show called “The West Wing” turned me around significantly in participating in politics.  “Decisions are made by those who show up,” struck a serious chord with me.  It has that benefit of being absolutely true.  It was high time I started showing up and putting my money where my mouth was.  This time, it wasn’t going to be enough to donate to a campaign.  This time, it wasn’t going to be enough to hope for the best while others did the groundwork for me.  This time, I’m not going to look back at another election season and say, “Damn, I should’ve done more.”  This time, I’m not going to lament the election of a shitty Republican candidate looking to further a crap agenda for an additional four years after living through the last eight and wondering if President Gore might’ve done better.  And this time, I’m not going to threaten to move to Canada when it doesn’t go the way I want it to.

This time… this time, people… I am stepping up and getting involved.  This time, I’m going to do whatever it takes to ensure that we get a president who gives a damn about those of us who don’t make millions and billions each year.  This time, I’m not going to regret not doing more, because if we lose, it won’t be because I couldn’t find the energy to get out of my chair and add my resolve, drive, and determination to those around me.  This time, good thoughts and clenched eyes would fall way short of the goal.  And this time, Election Night won’t be spent in bed lying awake, wondering if the next day will be better.

Members of my own family are voting for McCain.  I’ve had conversations, at length, and I’m convinced that they’ve chosen the lazy way out.  Being a Democrat means you give a damn about the person sitting next to you.  Being a Democrat means you care about seniors getting proper care.  Being a Democrat means you care about everyone getting health care.  Being a Democrat means that you believe in a strong ecomony driven by a strong middle class, not the failed Reaganomics of trickle-down.  Being a Democrat means you want the next generation of Americans to have a Department of Education fully funded and packed with excellent teachers, because a smarter generation means a stronger economy.  Being a Democrat means you want government to fulfill the promise of a secured future for our retirees in protecting Social Security.  Being a Democrat, in simple terms, means you’re willing to be a caring citizen of the community, not just someone living there.

We’re stronger as a team than individuals.

Sure, it’s so easy to not give a shit and think of only yourself.  That’s what Republicanism is, to me.  It’s laziness.  It’s complacency.  It’s being okay with keeping this country in a deep economic rut.  It’s being okay with racial slurs and calling someone a Muslim because you’re using the politics of fear to further your agenda.  It’s being okay with pointing out the differences between people in order to drive a wedge between them in order to quell the masses.  It’s being okay with the philosophy of name-calling when things don’t go your way.  Republicanism is selfishness.  It’s about “me, me, me.”  It is the ideal that if you don’t agree with me, then you’re instantly judged to be either a traitor to your country or inconsequential.  It’s the ideal that it takes too much energy to learn about the other side of the argument.  It’s the ideal that you hand over your ability to decide things for yourself and download Fox News en masse in order to determine your own positions on the issues because it’s easy.

It’s just too hard to try and understand for these people.

Now, in spite of my general points, I will say that I am friends with Republicans and not all of them are of this vein.  Most of the Republicans (who are not my family) are voting for Barack Obama.  They’re lifelong Republicans, too.  And I work closely with two of them… and by the way?  They made this decision on their own, long before I mentioned my campaign work.  I just wish more Republicans showed this kind of insight, to be able to reach across the party line and really read and listen to Obama’s vision for America.

It’s just too hard to try and understand, I guess.  It’s easier to use a label and dismiss.  It’s easier to be close-minded because maybe… maybe they’re afraid of being called out as a traitor themselves.  Or maybe, deep down, they’re afraid that the ideology that they cling to so fiercely… isn’t as strong as they claim.  I’ve noticed that a lot with people who claim to be Born Again Christians.  They want to convert everyone around them to make themselves feel better about this choice they’ve made.  If you’re really and truly okay with the choice you’ve made, then the way that I think and believe should not be a threat to you.

It’s not my fault you’re insecure and self-conscious about what you put your faith in.

Obama for America means just that.  It’s not Obama for Democrats.  America.  The whole country.  He’s fighting to win back the soul of this great nation.

And I’m helping him with everything I’ve got.

Won’t you join me?

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