Ok, just to get this on the record before I go on another media fast (since I am obsessively following the presidential campaign rather than writing my dissertation proposal, which I've GOT to turn in early next week)... If it has not already been obvious (and to those who are friends on facebook, where I post a new Obama article every hour or so, it's pretty obvious), I'm voting for Barack Obama in the upcoming primaries. I'll try to write more on my reasoning later, but here are two firsts for me.
1) I made my first ever political contribution last week--to the Obama campaign, thus apparently becoming one of the 170,000 new donors to his campaign this month.
2) I am an independent (morally so--disliking the partisanship of American politics I've seen my whole life), so I have never voted in a primary presidential election before. But next week, I'm going to go in and file my absentee vote for the primary (I don't live in one of the Super Tuesday states, and I don't have to register for a party--although I would if I had to).
I watched the debate tonight and thought it was a very pleasant conversation. (And isn't that a great photo...?)Hillary would probably do fine, as a president, and I actually enjoyed hearing her speak tonight. But Obama has a rare fire, and the charisma both (paradoxically) to unify and to shake up the status quo. This is not your everyday candidate...
I'm impressed and moved by how he has built up a grassroots support of independent voters and youth. I support his policy of not taking money from federal lobbysts and his committment to a "clean" and positive campaign. I also am impressed with his experience with grassroots level community activism, and I believe that he, more than Hillary Clinton, can actually rally young voters to continue their activism during his administration. While initially I had hoped that he might have more experience Washington before he ran, I find convincing his argument that being a Washington newcomer is an advantage. While Hillary Clinton has been moving in political circles for the past 20 years or so (and would be yet another dynastic succession should she win the nomination), he has recently been a community activist and had experience at a local level. (The other counter argument, of course, might be that GWB did not come into the White House with much experience...and we don't want a repeat of that. But then again, WHAT exactly was GWB doing before he was a governor? Managing a failing baseball team? Why did people vote for him--was it--perhaps because they looked nostalgically back to his father's time in office and thought that his father's advisors might do a good job helping him lead the country?) And finally (and perhaps this should not be the last reason), I also agree with Barack Obama's positions on the environment, on immigration (more than I agree with Hillary--ie. drivers liscences), his plans to make health care affordable, on his desire to bring a new international diplomacy to the White House.
So, my underlying idealism (always there, deep down) has burst my educated veneer of cynicism about politics and for the first time in my life, I am voting for someone I am excited about, rather than for someone I dislike less than the other guy/gal (and it IS good to have, for the first time, such a strong female candidate, though I'm not voting for her) running. He has made me hopeful about politics--has introduced the startling idea that politics can actually be practiced to bring about positive change, which is, believe me, a transformation from the way I've ever thought about politics before. And this perhaps is at the root of the youth movement behind him. The media has this truism about how youth don't come out to vote. Perhaps the REASON behind this is that for our whole lives (or at least the time we've had to vote) there has been nothing really to rally behind, other than, perhaps, trying to unseat Bush, which is not really a positive reason to vote. It's been the same old politics as usual--always nasty, always partisan, always predictable. Barack Obama represents something new and exciting.
I like him so much I fear to see what American politics will do to him and, of course, I dread the inevitable letdown that people who have claimed him as a kind of messiah will feel when he gets into office and they discover that he is a human being who makes mistakes, but I think the dream he offers is one worth following. Will he establish peace on earth and good will toward men? No. Let me not be blasphemous.
Will he be able to do what he's promised? Probably not altogether. Not by himself, but if enough youth continue the grassroots movement they've begun to elect him, we might be able to bring about some serious change. Maybe. It's worth hoping for, anyway--and it's worth my vote.