Tuesday, March 18, 2008

on race and hope

For the first time since I can remember, I'm excited about the presidential election.

The first president I remember was Carter, and I really don't remember too much about him. I have lots of memories about Reagan, because I started to become aware of the importance of government by that time...but that's a topic for my book, not the blog. I was not old enough to vote for Bush I, and to tell you the truth, I have no idea where I would've went with that one...it's not like Dukakis inspired great loyalty, after all. On the other hand, I did get to see the marvelous economic effects of the Bush I presidency, so it's not like I have an abundance of love for him either.

I did vote for Clinton both times. The first time, it was in part because I saw the economic devastation of Bush I first hand, but the biggest reason was frankly that I wanted health insurance. I voted for Clinton the second time because as bitter as I was about the health insurance debacle, he still seemed less deadly than Dole.

Al Gore got my vote, but that one was a toughie. Gore ran without a doubt one of the worst possible campaigns I could imagine. How can you distance yourself from a president with one of the highest approval ratings ever? But he was no Bush II, and that was enough for me...although I had to have a shot of bourbon after voting to get the taste out of my mouth.

Kerry was also hard, because he was such a charisma void and an idiot to boot. However, by this time, I saw the damage Bush II could do, and I would vote for anyone who could prevent our great country from turning into an overly moralistic bully. We all know how that one turned out, though.

This time, however, I feel really good about the election, and that's mostly because of Barak Obama. I used to wonder what it would be like to vote for someone you actually believed in, who wanted to be president for all the right reasons, who made sense and had obviously weighed out all sides of an issue--morally, politically, ethically, practically.

I like Obama so much, I went out and campaigned for him on the day of the state primary. For those who know me, you realize how hard it is for me to approach and interact with total strangers, so this was not easy. I wanted to be a part, however, and I wanted to know that I did everything I could to help in this movement.

In this, I was largely inspired by a friend, who was very instrumental in the BG Obama campaign. Also, my in-laws drove in and did campaigning the week before the primary.

Today, Obama finally addressed the 500 pound gorilla in the room...race. After all, when you have the first black man ever to be a serious candidate, race is obviously an issue in some regard. On his website, there's a video and a transcript of his speech entitled "A More Perfect Union." It is perhaps one of the more lucid, eloquent, intelligent, and hopeful takes on race in America I've ever heard. It shows a grace and spark which I've never before seen out of a politician.

It's also a good reason why I, for the first time in ages, have real hope for our country.

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