So goes the nation

5 Feb

Today, my husband and I will go to the polls and place votes for different candidates in the California primary. While we will be voting for different parties, the candidates we chose have inspired our vote for essentially the same reasons: we want to pick a candidate whom we believe can save this country from self-destruction.

Yes, we believe the stakes are that high. They are high because our country is in big trouble financially and emotionally.

The financial crisis has been well publicized. While some argue about whether we are in a recession or just on the brink of one, few outside the Bush Administration will suggest that we are doing well financially. The last two presidential elections brought up deep divisions of class and culture, making at least half of us feel like we had been cheated. I am highly skeptical that we can withstand a third round without descending into chaos. This is catastrophic language, but it is honestly what I feel is at stake his time.

Our emotions are further hampered by this self-perpetuating war an ideal to which there can never be declared an end, until a new leader admits that war can never and should never be declared on a construct. We cannot continue to fight until we are no longer afraid, because he more we fight the more fearful we become. The War on Terror is a lie and so is the war in Iraq. A government that authorizes secret prisons, and plays around with the definition of torture means that we now rely on documentary filmmakers, artists, and people on the fringes to present us with truth. the fringe is not the whole truth, either, but we trust the small voices more because the big voice we used to trust has been so dishonest.

And while I was once content to simply argue in coffee shops, online forums, or from the comfort of a classroom desk, things are different now: I am a parent.

Lyra 7 months

Pessimistic dismissiveness about our country no longer works because she will inherit this mess. She will pay for this mess. She didn’t ask to be born in this time and in this country. Now that she is here, I owe it to her to give her a the best life possible not just by what I do my home, but by the decisions I make, and how I choose to affect the world.

I am voting for Barack Obama.

While I feel that Hillary Clinton would be a flawed, but capable president, she is a polarizing figure. If watching the movie, So Goes the Nation (for which this post is named) has taught me anything, it’s that social conservatives are masters at mobilizing their people to go vote. This group feels a particular venom toward Mrs. Clinton and they will be inspired in drives to vote for AnyoneButHer. Though I believe that she is dedicated to public service, I also see some of the decisions she has made as a first lady, senator and presidential campaigner as being more in the service of satisfying a lifelong ambition, rather than serving the public good. I also believe that political dynasties degenerates democracy rather than uplifts it. It doesn’t matter that the “other side” has had one. If we believe in democratic representation of the people, we cannot believe that our cause it advanced by members of the same household (not to mention the same bed) taking turns at running our government.

I don’t believe that Barack Obama is perfect. I worry that he is green and may be ripe fruit for the corporate interests and special interests to pick and puppet as they see fit. I hope not, but on my most pessimistic days, I see this as a real possibility. I worry that even in 2008 there are people who are so bothered by caramel-color of his skin, that they will do anything to silence him, and we will feel all the more hopeless. I also worry that his message of inspiration is a calculated political decision and that after he takes office his speech in New Hampshire will feel like a distant memory.

In spite of all of this, I am voting for Barack Obama because at the end of the day, our government has three branches, not just one. Many people make the decisions that affect our lives for better or worse, not just one. But our president is our voice, our representative, the symbol of what is America to the rest of the world. Why shouldn’t the person who delivers that message speak of hope, and determination? Why shouldn’t he be a son of an immigrant, as so many Americans are? Why shouldn’t he look like the physical manifestation of the melting pot we celebrate in speech, but so few of us actually live in? And why shouldn’t our president inspire cheering, stage rushing, and unbridled enthusiasm in his citizens, rather than polite applause (or worse, outright boos and disdain)?

I am voting for the person whom I believe can unite this nation under a common cause. It’s really that simple.

Certainly, I wish he were a woman. I’d love a woman president. I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton simply because she is a woman and am I. I am not voting for Barack Obama simply because he is black and so am I. As a biracial male child of the 60’s Obama and I have few common experiences. As an affluent white woman of the 50’s, Mrs. Clinton and I have even fewer. I have rarely been the only woman in a business meeting, classroom, or any public space. The best students in every class I’ve ever been in–including math, science, and all of my courses at AIS–have been women, most of them white. My experience as a black person in America is quite different. In the classroom, at work, and elsewhere I have frequently been the only non-white face in the room.

In other words, there are still many places outside the White House where black faces are non-existent, including the Senate floor (of which, it should be noted, there are 16 women serving currently of 35 who have served since its inception; there has been only one black in that Senator and he is now running for president). If either Clinton or Obama are elected, it will represent a sea change in the face of American political leadership. Obama being elected simply feels more so.

So yes, by now it is cliche. I’m voting for change. I’m voting for hope. I’m voting for the candidate that I think will be our next president, not only the one that makes proud to be a member of my party. I’m not positive that Barack Obama can win the general election, but I’m pretty convinced that Hillary cannot. And another Republican administration would be disastrous to this country. I want to be a part of electing someone great, someone inspiring, someone who can rise above the novelty of being the first _____ to be elected president of the United States I believe that Barack Obama can do this. I don’t believe that Hillary Clinton can. So I’m voting for the person whom I believe in, and I’m hoping that for the first time in this millennium the person who wind the election is someone we can all believe in, and not less-than half of us who happen to live in the states that count.

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10 Responses to “So goes the nation”

  1. Suz February 5, 2008 at 5:29 am #

    My dad serves as my barometer of the Republican right and, really, he seems to feel the same way about Hillary as I do about Bush. It’s a deep, deep, deep distain and fear and anger – the type that inspires political action. He and his friends would rally around the “anyonebutHillary” cry.

    However, I wonder about this as a rational for voting for Obama, especially as the “anyonebutBush” cry did not serve the Democrats well in the last election. I believe that it can serve as part of a rational, as it does in your post, but should not be the entire kit and kaboodle.

    I don’t know who I’m going to vote for. And, thankfully, I don’t have to decide for another few months as our primary is one of the last in the nation. I wish it was earlier, but as it’s not, I’m sitting back and watching as others decide for me.

  2. Yolanda February 5, 2008 at 7:04 am #

    Suz,
    Well, I think that part of the problem with the last election is that Democrats assumed (and I was definitely blinded by this, myself) that the majority of America was fed up with Bush and the war, and would gladly vote him out of office now that they had the chance. So, we nominated an erudite, stiff, and dispassionate man believing that people would be happy to elect AnyoneButBush. And it was a dead wrong and arrogant assumption. One I hope we don’t make the mistake of repeating. Conservatives are not voting on my issues, but they are voting on issues that are important to them. While the Republican race has been fractured and most social conservatives have found very little to fall in love with in their choices, we cannot assume they will remain dispassionate if they see the potential for electing a president to which they are vehemently opposed. It is far from the only consideration, but it is not one I think can be dismissed.

  3. Garrett February 5, 2008 at 7:57 am #

    In the last year I have come to believe/understand that Democrat/Republican really means nothing. If you listen to the Republicans and what they said in the 60’s, they sound nothing like Republicans today. The Democrats were the corrupt warmongers then as bush is now. Parties mean nothing actions are what matter. Politics is a cycle. One party gets in the white house, gains too much control over the legislative, judicial and executive branches and then corruption ensues because that much power corrupts whoever is there at that time. This is what the constitution was “meant” to prevent.

    The great depression was the 9/11 of the early 20th century. It scared the crap out of America and those with power used that fear to start the Federal Reserve Central Bank. Which is what this country fought and died to get away from in the Revolutionary War. We went to war to become our own nation and gain control over our money and monetary system. We let fear drive us right back into the arms of the enemy we so desperately wanted to get away from long ago. This is also when income tax started. Another enemy we died to free ourselves from and have since returned too. We failed to remember our History and repeated the mistakes others made before us.
    Now with our currency is on the verge of collapse and our Global Credit score diving and the middle class on its way to extinction. We are powerless to do anything to stop it. Our fate lies in the hands of the Central Bankers for they are the ones with true power over our nation and its prosperity.

    The internet has taught me all of this. For the internet is a source for more power than anything else before it. The internet is a source of information. Guns, Money and Fear are great sources of power but, information is more powerful than all of those things.

    Now that my eyes are open they will not close again. I see now what I did not see before. I won’t even go into the main stream media and their role in our countries situation. Except to say that if you rely on cable TV and CNN/FOX/MSNBC for your information then you have no power for you have no information. Except information which those in power wish you to have.

    I will be voting for Ron Paul. When November comes, if his name is not on the ballot I will check “other” and write it there myself. Never again will I give away my only true power to those who want to control me. My voice will be heard even if its a whisper in a sea of screams.

  4. Lynne February 5, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    I still haven’t decided who I will vote for…I’ve got seven hours to decide I guess. I’m leaning heavily towards Obama partly due to something he said on ATC. In one of the debates he had “misunderstood” a question (it was something like “what is your greatest accomplishment”) and while the other candidates put the biggest amount of spin they could on the question he gave a very simple, personal answer. When the ATC interviewer asked if he wanted to change his answer (several days after the debate), he replied “no”.

  5. Yolanda February 5, 2008 at 9:43 am #

    Garrett,

    We’ve certainly had our talks about this. The issue concerning the profit-driven news media is a good one. It is unfortunate that not everyone understands the negative effect of our news media being owned by profit-driven entertainment companies, nor how that affects what stories get covered and which angles are taken. I would also add that the Ron Paul Revolution is quite interesting as a movement, that is barely noticed and even less understood outside the realms of social media. I don’t think we’ll know the full significance of this shift for a few years, but I suspect that as with many things in the political landscape of 2008, it will come to be known as a paradigm shift–everything after this will be diferent.

    Lynne,
    My hope is that his response represents a person who okay with being flawed (i.e. misunderstanding a question, and giving the “incorrect answer)–or that at the very least he said something honest and true and feels no need to retract–and not an example of the George Bush-style, “I never regret anything” rhetoric. Oh boy, these last eight years have made me so skeptical and jaded.

  6. Lynne February 5, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    I took it as the latter: he said something honest and true, because really it was a matter of how the question was interpreted.

  7. James February 5, 2008 at 6:49 pm #

    voting for Clinton….best Republican in the race.

  8. Julie Pippert February 5, 2008 at 7:33 pm #

    I am so glad to see this…who you are voting for and why. I feel adrift, again. And perplexed by the extreme conservatives from the Republican party endorsing HIllary over McCain.

  9. Yolanda February 5, 2008 at 9:15 pm #

    Oh James, good thing for closed primaries. I could hardly imagine your filling in that bubble next to the name “Clinton.” But your words give me pause, so did Julie’s comment. Without tv news, I’d somehow missed this story. If Ann Coulter is endorsing Hillary Clinton something is up: either with Mrs. Clinton’s politics, or with the Republican election strategy.

  10. james February 5, 2008 at 9:43 pm #

    im a registered Democrat fyi

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