Thursday, June 5, 2008
The future starts now?
Obama has won. Putting aside my animosity towards Hillary Clinton for a minute, I think all Americans, regardless of who you support, should take a second to realize how historic this moment is. For all the controversies about race that have flared up (sweet lord I hope those rumors of a tape involving Michelle Obama going batshit nuts on white people are false) it is easy to overlook the fact that our country is slowly (rapidly, even?) pushing the issue of race into the background. Young people are overwhelmingly becoming colorblind and the fact that an African-American named Barack Obama could be the next president is an incredibly important moment for America. Is race gone? Nope and you'll no doubt be hearing much more about it in the next 5 months. But its worth taking a moment to smile and recognize that America has changed and is changing. Who knows, in a couple more generations, race may not even be a major factor anymore. Gotta hope :)
I've got no idea where the next part of this blog is going to go. It's going to be a sort of stream of consciousness attempt to figure out why I "connect" with Obama as opposed to every other politician I've ever seen. I'm sure it will end up sounding overly gushy, but I don't really have a clear grasp as to why I care about "just another politician". I'm going to try and work it out, and probably fail miserably, but hey, this is my blog and I can write whatever I want :)
On a personal level, seeing Barack Obama win the nomination was incredibly satisfying for me. I've been following him since 2004, went to see him in person, donated a couple hundred bucks to his campaign and almost obsessively followed all of the ups and downs of the primary campaign. I feel like I've really invested a lot of time, money, and energy into a person I really believe in and to see, against all odds, that payoff is such a great feeling. I used to hear all these stories from members of my family about how amazing John F. Kennedy was. My grandma, as conservative as you can possibly get, would tell me how much she loved and connected with JFK. I'd ask her why and she couldn't really explain it, only that she really believed in him even though he didn't share her views. To this day, she'll tear up when you mention his assassination. For my entire life I couldn't relate to that. Most of my friends can't either. It's just a politician. In 2004 I was totally for John Kerry, but the guy didn't connect with me on any real level. Obama's different. Don't ask me why, I probably couldn't explain it. Obama supporters like to identify themselves as a family. Maybe there is something to that. I sort of feel like I'm supporting a friend or family member. I feel like we're on the cusp of changing America forever.
For all I know, these changes could be horrible. Obama could be the worst president in the history of our country. I have no idea. I'm not really talking about political ideology or inspirational speeches, I'm saying that on a personal level, the only politician out there that I connect with is Barack Obama. Why? I don't know. Maybe its a generational thing. Maybe its the hopeful, forward looking speeches. Maybe its that I agree with him on most of the issues. Maybe I just think the dude's cool. Who knows? All I know is that it feels different. I actually feel like I have a stake in what happens. I think it sort of goes back to that friend/family thing. If somebody tried to attack one of my friends, I'd take that as an attack on me as well. So everytime I hear or read some sort of anti-Obama rhetoric, I take it personally. I think its probably a lot like when conservatives get defensive if somebody says something bad about Ronald Reagan. Especially those who grew up really believing in Reagan the way people like me believe in Barack Obama. Did Reagan do some shitty things? Absolutely. Will Obama do some shitty things? You bet. But just like our friends and family, who also do shitty things from time to time, you still feel that connection to them, a sort of bond that can't be broken. Every once in a while a politician comes around that really moves people in a way that 99.9% of other politicians just can't. For me, Obama is that politician.
Trying to work through this, I think I've come to a much greater understanding of why people will defend certain politicians as hard as they do. It could very well be that said politician is doing something horrible, but that if you've connected with them in a way that creates some sort of internal bond (?), then you're far more apt to defend them to the end. For people who haven't connected and just don't give a shit, not only is it easier to criticize, but also to flat out disregard the supporters.
In any event, I've connected on some level with Obama. Am I sure what the thing is that is different about him than other politicians who have said the same things? No, but I'm sure all those Roosevelt, JFK, and Reagan devotees would have a hard time placing it as well.
In other news, Obama didn't even wait a day to start remaking the Democratic party. He has kept Howard Dean as DNC chairman (a great move) and has disallowed the DNC from taking money from federal lobbyists or PACS (a magnificent move). He's also allowing full transparency at all of his fundraisers by allowing the press to be present (wow. that's definitely a change. I wonder if McCain will let the press into all of his Republican fund raisers?)
The Democratic Party is changing for the better already!