Today is a unique day in my lifetime; a primary day where almost 1/2 of states are voting, but where the outcome is still very much in doubt. If you’re in one of those states, whether or not you agree with me about Obama, find your polling place and go vote. In all Democratic primaries, and many Republican primaries, the vote is not winner take all, so your vote matters even if your candidate is behind in the polls and will not get a majority. Go! Vote!
Today is also unique because for the first time in my life I’m really excited about a candidate, not because I dislike the other candidate, but because I think that the country deeply needs change – to move past the 50% + 1 politics of the past decade – and that one of the candidates sincerely wants to make that change happen in a positive, constructive way, and might even be able to do it.
There are a lot of reasons I think Obama is the candidate to do this. These are a short handful of my many personal reasons, some very abstract, some very concrete. If you want to know where I stand, read these; if you want to actually be persuaded, read Lessig’s reasons :)
- after years of alternately fearing and being world weary of our politicians, I want to hope again. Perhaps my hope is misplaced; perhaps it is naive; but I don’t think it is. To quote a much better writer than me:
To support Obama, we must permit ourselves to feel hope, to acknowledge the possibility that we can aspire as a nation to be more than merely secure or predominant. We must allow ourselves to believe … as we believe in the comfort we take in our families, in the pleasure of good company, in the blessings of peace and liberty, in any thing that requires us to put our trust in the best part of ourselves and others. That kind of belief is a revolutionary act. It holds the power, in time, to overturn and repair all the damage that our fear has driven us to inflict on ourselves and the world… It is part of the world’s nature and of our own to break, ruin and destroy; but it is also our nature and the world’s to find ways to mend what has been broken. We can do that. Come on. Don’t be afraid. (Michael Chabon, emphasis mine.)
- he’s breaking the DC culture of money by raising huge amounts of money in small amounts online instead of in large chunks from (eventually) favored fundraisers. Even if he loses, this will be a huge positive change, but it took huge fortitude to believe that this was possible and step out of the cocoon of DC fundraising-as-usual.
- despite what others have implied, he’s got deeply substantive policy positions on a lot of issues I care about, while also admitting that all real-world issues are complicated and more than just black and white checklists of things you can say yes or no to. That includes serious thinking on technology policy, and a health care plan that can actually be enacted, both things that matter to me. Or on war:
I stand before you as someone not opposed to all war in all circumstances. I don’t oppose all wars. What I’m opposed to is a dumb war, what I am opposed to is a rash war. A war based not on reason, but on passion; not on principle, but on politics.
- because he’s got the spine to support gay rights not just in front of gay crowds, but also in front of black churches.
- instead of a knee-jerk Pavlovian response every time the word ‘Reagan’ comes out of someone’s mouth, he understands that creating a mirror image of the ‘Reagan Democrats’ could unleash tremendous forces for positive change. And he is actually doing it.
- because he’s not just inspiring me, he’s inspiring my friends: Nat, Ethan, Dave. And he’s inspired hundreds of thousands of others to participate as well.
- because ‘Yes, we can‘ is so positive, so hopeful, so inspirational that even Hillary has the bug. :)
I don’t think Obama is a savior; he’ll get attacked and savaged and lied about, as was done to Kerry and Gore (and McCain) and to Clinton before that. And that will take its toll. And he’ll certainly tack more left on some things than I’d like, and probably more right on others. But dammit… I want someone to try to lead more than 50% +1 of the country. I want someone who aspires, instead of trudges, but who also tells hard truths even when they might cost him votes. I want someone who can dream of America doing great things and fixing our great problems, instead of just aiming to secure power.
Maybe he’s naive and I’m naive too. But after the past 10 years I would prefer to try for something better, and fail, than not to try at all.
(Sadly… I’m registered independent in NY and can’t vote today… :/ Sign of how apathetic primary candidates on both sides have made me. So please… go vote in my stead!)