I usually don't use this space to talk about politics. These are not usual times. I thought about the election and the events over these past few months that ultimately made my decision this morning. I am writing about all this.
Americans under 40 are almost overwhelmingly gravitating toward Senator Barack Obama. He represents youth, vitality, hope, resurgence, re-invigoration, honesty, and the future. The young people of the United States have watched what the Baby Boomers (Bush, Clinton) have done to the world and are anxious for a paradigm shift.
The last twenty years of politics in our country has been in the hands of a "ruling class." The years of Clinton were good for the economy and morale...to a point...until all his dirty dealings became apparent. The country thought we were headed for moral decline and did an about face to elect George Bush to the highest office in the land. Buoyed by the religious right and outrage over Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky, and Mrs. Clinton's ties to Wal*Mart and commodities trading, the country wanted "religion." Mr. "MBA" "good buddy" "baseball owner" "good Texan" Bush sailed into office the first time without a clear agenda except vindicating his father, Former President Herbert Walker Bush's good name after the Gulf War. Dubwa was a voice to the powers-that-be...Halliburton and Dick Cheney's crowd...that led us to war and to some very select people getting very rich. The country wanted a "religious" president with good "morals" and ended up with a never ending war, senators and aides not acting very moral (sex scandals with minors and unmentionable encounters in public washrooms), and a crushing economy. The youth, some barely able to vote during the 2004 election that was court-awarded and not publicly-elected, have watched it all, and decided, it's our turn.
I have watched all the happenings every since Senator Obama announced his candidacy on an icy day in February 2007. It has really been a year since he set out, a man with a "pitch black father" and a "milk white mother" (his description), to seek the highest office. The very idea that he believes in America and in the promise of America is energizing the youth. The world is watching and the children are watching. The question is, what is the country going to do?
The voting in Ohio and Texas is over, the caucus results still waiting to be fully tabulated, and the question now posed is what will Mr. Obama do in light of Mrs. Clinton's politics-as-usual attacks? He has vowed to run a different campaign. He has energized and brought more people to the voting ranks than any other candidate. His slogan, "Yes We Can!" feels a lot like the young people who rallied behind Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy and brought about the Camelot Era we all still hold in high esteem. It has been a generation, decades, since the young (those under 50) have felt so much passion and optimism for this country.
It all strikes me this morning as I listened alternately to the broadcasters on CNN and The Today Show talk about "what happened" in light of Texas and Ohio. I had a brief flashback to 2004 with the butterfly ballots, hanging chads, and Florida...the stolen election of President Al Gore. I had a flashback to the previous economic downturns of 2001 and 2003 and now 2007/2008...all under the good-buddy president who was appointed president in 2004 because of his Republican money connections in Florida and the Republican dominated court that ruled him the winner even though Gore won. I hunkered down like other Americans to endure another four years and said not in 2008. Yet I sit here and wonder, what would happen.
Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama both have about the same resume. She claims 35 years of experience, but 32 of those years were just being married to Bill, that doesn't count. She was First Lady for 8 years...that doesn't make you any more qualified. Mr. Obama was a community organizer and then was in Illinois legislature for 8 years. I count being a state legislator more qualified than being married to the head guy. Most politics is local and he had to do a lot to win downstate Illinois so his platform of inclusion, being for all of America, and working across the aisle appeals to me. Mrs. Clinton would be an effective president if she were elected, the problem is that her trustworthiness hangs in the balance. She is 60 years old...a baby boomer whose time has past. She doesn't speak to my heart or to the heart of any of us under 50, or those who graduated from high school in the 1980s.
So the race continues as stodgy,old,and boring Senator McCain gears up for the national election. I close my eyes and cringe at this grandfather leading our country through the next decade of this young century. We need someone with a vision for the future with a global perspective. Auma Obama, the elder sister of Barack Obama stated, "He can be trusted to be in dialogue with the world." That is important in a time of this American recession reminiscent of the 70s, early 80s, and even some pundits dredge up memories of the Great Depression. A lot of our landmarks are owned by foreign governments, we owe money to China, we import cheap Chinese goods at the behest of the dominate Wal*Mart retailer, and we have kids who can't read. Math and Science scores are in the toilet and teachers are drilling urban kids on which oval to darken on one of Mr. Bush's No Child Left Behind tests. Big Business won't turn this country around, the 0.1% of the nation's wealthy won't turn this country around, it is going to take the rest of us and that is why I support Senator Barack Obama for the presidency.
Mr. Obama's website has a quote, "I'm asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington...I'm asking you to believe in yours." This is where the youth have caught the vision. Hundreds of thousands of $5 donations gave him the money needed to fight the Clintons (him and her) in the early days of his campaign. These same individuals who want to believe, college students, young mothers, professionals, even my son's middle school friends, are looking for the rest of the country to realize now is the time for America to own up to her promise. Mr. Obama has sparked enthusiasm for a country that seems out-of-touch with the housing crisis, the high cost of fueling the family fan, the rising prices of milk and bread,and the crippling debt of students reaching for the college dream. The future is watching.
It dawned on me in all of this that only in politics can someone be as old as dirt and still apply for the highest office. The young people are watching this also. My background is in business, I'm in my early 40's and in some companies, I'm deemed too old to hire. Barack Obama's youth is being touted as a liability, he is older than I am. Hillary Clinton would have been forced out of some companies at 60. John McCain is beyond the age of when my grandparents passed away. It makes me wonder what is not lining up. It is precisely Barack Obama's youth, his family, his relevance to those under 50 that makes him the right candidate. Hillary Clinton got the rural, blue collar white vote and the over 65 vote. How can those over 65 make the right decisions for a future they won't fully live out? Let the ones who will be saddled with the debt of this war and the debt of this president be the ones to decide, not a bunch of aging baby boomers and their parents. The rest of the world is watching and ready for a dialogue with someone with the knowledge that it can't be business as usual in 2008, that 2009-2013 are critical years into the future.
Barack Obama has a task before him. The country also has a task before us. We must decide if we want the same old Washington antics that benefit the few and leave the majority out. We must decide if we really want change and are willing to take the risk to make that come to fruition. We must decide. I hope we make the right decision.