Saturday, August 23rd, Senator Barack Obama announced he had chosen Senator Joe Biden as his running mate. This announcement was made in Springfield, IL midst scorching heat and an excited crowd. I'm sure some of the Hillary supporters were holding out hope he would pick her so the feminists would be happy. There was speculation that he would someone else around his age. In the end, he made a strategic choice.
I mulled over this for the weekend and decided not to jump on the bandwagon of trying to "scoop" the news. The text messages went out around 4am and I received my email at 6:48am, by then, Huffington Post had already reported the news. My decision was to think about it dispassionately and look at it from a longer term view. Of course, I had to hold back while McCain jumped on the choice with his negative advertisements and the CNN pundents were all over this juicy tidbit of potential network ratings.
At the local coffee shop, the square was crowded with the usual weekend latte drinkers. There was also a large group of the West County Obama office volunteer preparing to canvass. I asked a couple of them what they thought of the news. A baby-boomer gentleman told me "it was a smart choice" and another woman, while trying to hide her disappointment that a woman wasn't chosen said, "it's good, I'm happy."
I thought Senator Obama made a careful, thoughtful, strategic choice. Many would say that Joe Biden didn't deserve to be picked given his negative comment about Senator Obama during the primaries. I shook that off to the early competition, Hillary said much worse when it came down to the two of them racing for the nomination. Senator Biden brings something to the ticket that the rest of us already know - the middle class white vote that hasn't been voting with their wallet in years. He is from Philadelphia working class Catholic stock. He has a story to tell with his young wife and daughter being killed in 1972. He has gone through the human struggle with life differently than originally imagined, he had to redefine himself. He has experience, a good thing and a bad thing, even experienced politicians can adopt a message of change. Clearly he did that with his outspoken opposition to President Bush and the Iraq War even though he originally voted for it. I like the idea of someone changing their course for the better of the country.
The real race has begun. The Democrats have captured the attention of an electorate much exhausted from the constant spoon-feeding of fear over the last eight years. We are exhausted from being afraid of the terrorists, the gas prices, the high food prices, the job losses, the next door neighbor, the lady in the head scarf, the man in the turban, the kid with the big baggy pants, the girl with the nose-ring, the old man with the cane, the old lady at the bus stop, just tired of being afraid. I understood this more as I read the comments and blogs about Rick Warren's Saddleback Church and the veiled-attempt to be non-partisan. His stage with Senator Obama and Senator McCain was actually a way to subtly introduce that old fear. Even the church I attend has now started a class on the Biblical way to vote. All of that is code for republican because they have scared the rest of us into believing that if we don't vote their way or for a single issue, we can't possibly be Christians. I say enough!
This week is the Democrats chance to get their message out, I for one will be listening and participating. There has been an army of volunteers getting the word out, I imagine this to intensify with the convention and the upcoming election. In my homestate of Missouri, we have a solid Democrat running for governor. I am beginning to breathe with hope for my son's future. My son is a freshman in high school. The next four years are critical for him and for America. We have sold off our infrastructure in the name of shareholders and in the process have forgotten about the citizens. Obama has a bold plan to get the country working again, beginning with shoring up our buildings, roads, bridges. He plans to penalize the big businesses that don't pay taxes and send jobs overseas in the name of profit. I hope he comes down on Wal-Mart that promises cities a boost to the local economy but in the end, siphons out much needed tax money because they lobby for tax-abatements. Our teachers need to be properly compensated and no-child-left-behind needs to go into the shredder. There is much to do that is not just for the urban-core but the rural base that will enhance the country.
The ruling class of this country has had it easy the past eight years. Just as John McCain didn't know how many houses he owns and President Bush didn't know the price of gas, the rich don't know the plight of the average American. They try to make Barack and Michelle Obama out to be "elitists" because they are Princeton and Harvard educated when the American dream is that working class parents, like Michelle Robinson Obama's, can save and send their daughter to the best schools. She studied hard and "stayed out of trouble" so she could get her education. That promise is illusive for many hard working, middle class families right now. The hope is that Obama/Biden can begin to restore that hope in the American dream for all Americans and not the wealthiest few.
I believe people will put aside their fears and vote for the "black guy with the funny name" because it is 2008, it is time for a change, it is time for hope, it is time to embrace the future. I for one, will be watching, walking, and working to make this happen.