Today I woke up with my mind busy at work already. Strangely, about the Democratic Primary. I have always strongly believed that to vote was one of the most important things I do as a citizen. But I seldom fret about what happens after that. I spoke. My voice was counted. The people made their decision. Sometimes I shake my head in wonder, or even disgust, but usually, I let it go. The worst was when George W. Bush Jr. was elected president the first time. I threw a shoe at my TV as I sat watching the lunacy that handed W. the presidential mantle, and Gore the popular vote. Still can't quite get around that one. Oh, I know how it happened, courts or no courts. But it still seems wrong on so many levels. When our intrepid president was re-elected, I cried. And turned my presidential thoughts to 2008, when I knew that there was hope for change again. I bit my lip. I grumbled about policy, the raping of the earth, bad economy, and worst of all, a war that there was no way to win. Time moved on, as time will, and here we are, 2008, and change is coming.
I remember voting for Bill Clinton. He was my first election ever, and I remember him with the fondness that I think only your first can engender. I had just turned 18. I had been too young to vote in the primary, but I was excited to join the adult population and have a voice that November. Friends sat around the Mirror Pools at PCC, or we talked over criss-cut fries at Carl's Jr. debating the pros and cons of re-electing President Bush, or bringing in someone new - namely Clinton. Full of hope, I voted, and experienced the joy of having my candidate elected. And he did not disappoint. There was economic prosperity. No more wars. And best of all, the national deficit was disappearing, and Social Security was being shored up. There was hope. There was prosperity. And even though some people accused him of waffling in his decisions, I knew that he was one of the most intelligent presidents we have had, and that intelligent people consider new information and change their stance as necessary.
I slowly became aware of Hillary at that time. She was a strong woman - so strong that people suggested that perhaps she ran the Oval office. I would laugh. I liked her. She wasn't afraid to speak her mind. To work for things that made our lives better. She stood out. I was proud to have a first lady that did more than smile and wave to the camera. She fought for healthcare - something that I did not fully appreciate until I had children in the midst of the fiasco that became our economy as W. took over the reigns. And she became a real woman to me as she fought with press and husband over infidelity and questions about decisions that she has made. Secretly I admired her strength and her ability to forgive. When she ran for Senate I applauded the New Yorkers that gave her the chance to have her own political career outside of her husbands. And I liked most of what I heard about her decisions, and I hoped that she would run in 2008 and blast away the blundering idiocy in leadership that I have been forced to endure for the last 8 years.
So when the California Primary came around I looked at the candidates that would be on my ballet. John Edwards I had liked from before - but I was certain Hillary was going to grab the nomination. I hoped he would be VP. Obama was nearly completely off my radar. I had heard his name. Saw his face. Heard his slogan of change. But I didn't see anything new in my cursory glance at him. I was voting for HIllary. And I did.
And then Barack Obama caught my attention.
I began to realize that this person I had barely noticed was giving Hillary a real run for her money. Why? I started to look for articles. I watched YouTube clips. I began to notice a difference. I listened to him speak. And strangely, I began to hope. It was like he was picking my secret political desires from deep inside my head and speaking them out loud. Real change in Washington. Unification of people and politics of this country. Healthcare that I could afford, and not be penalized because I couldn't. Someone who not only spoke against Federal Lobbyists, but who actually didn't take their money! Someone who had shown himself to be a man of high moral standard and values, and who had acted upon those values from the beginning of his career. Hard Work. My word is my bond. The way the world is, and the way it should be. Hope. Don't lose hope. It is not lost unless you allow it to be.
I realized I had allowed true hope to slip through my fingers. I had voted for Hillary because I thought she could do a damn sight better than the establishment to date. And I still believe that. But Barack Obama touched deep into my soul. He speaks to me from his heart. When I hear an ad from Obama, I hear his voice, I see his face. I see honesty. I see a man I can respect as a husband and father. I see a man that I can stand behind with pride. He has inspired me in a way that I have never before felt in my life for any candidate, in any race, ever. I am daring to hope that he could make it into the Oval Office and not only retain his integrity, but inspire integrity in others on Capital HIll. That we might begin to fight over what is right, and not over an invisible party line. That I could be a truly proud American. That I could be proud not only of the freedoms that this country affords me, but of the leadership, and the global direction this country takes, instead of apologizing for bad leaders, bad policy, and warmongering.
My husband began to notice my obsession with my computer.
"You know, this is what you should have done BEORE the primary." He said.
"I know." And I felt truly awful that I had not, for it would have been one more vote for Obama in a hard race. I have never been that passionate about politics. It has always seemed a broken system to me. Money, power, little concern with what is right, and too much concern with what to say to get elected. Not what to DO, what to say. Not who you are, but who you seem to be. I have been nearly hopeless for a long time. To feel real hope for real change blossom in my chest is truly frightening. I suddenly seem to have so much more to lose. And it means so much more to me. That Obama win, and not just a Democrat suddenly seemed important.
Did I mention that my husband is a registered republican? I bring this up because though I barely managed not to hurt him for voting for W. not once, but twice, we have always been able to agree to disagree. That is why his next statement floored me.
"I really hope Obama wins."
"What, the Primanry? He just might. But why? Do you think McCain will have an easier time beating Obama than Clinton?"
"No, not that. He needs to be the next president. He is going to change things in this country." I held my breath. Could it be? We agreed? Did my husband dare to hope too? Had he been as lost as I?
"He'll be the first black president. That is definitely going to get someone angry, and when it does, he is going to become a Martyr for this country - just like JFK, just like Abraham Lincoln. And when he dies in office, it will open people's eyes across this country and change will come. Just like it did for JFK. The best thing he can do for this country is die in office."
I watched my husband walk out of the room, speechless. My husband WAS daring to hope, had been hopeless, just as I had. But he did not believe the way I was beginning to. He still cannot believe in any one politician, or in any real change in the way things are done in Washington. My heart raced as I realized that I was beginning to. I wanted change. And Javier is right, Obama dying in office would definitely create an uproar, and change would happen. But my insides screamed. I don't believe that the change my husband hopes for can only be achieved through death. I believe that Barack Obama can be that man that we need to make changes in this country from top to bottom. To heal the wounds that have simply been ignored. And that in the process we can have what we haven't dared to dream in decades. Real, honest leadership that we can believe in as a country. For the first time in my life, I feel myself becoming passionate about the politics of this nation, and I believe that anything is possible right now.
I have become not just an Obama supporter, I have become a believer. The apathy of years past is beginning to evaporate, and I am afraid. Will it matter? I have to believe that it will. For I have found hope.
Don't get me wrong. I still believe that HIllary would be 10,000 times better than continuing with the inane policy set forth by the current administration. She is, after all, a woman, and has GOT to have more sense than most on capital hill on that quality alone. And though I have more respect for McCain than most Republican leaders, he still represents more of the same. I cannot just accept another 8 years of this insanity.
So today I find myself in a unique position for my life. I hope. I dream. And now I wonder, will my dreams come true? I must pin that hope on a man I have never met. Who doesn't know me, and likely never will. If I am lucky, some day he may thank me for my vote, should I be allowed to give it to him. And yet, I dare to believe that he will continue to touch into my private hopes and dreams, and bring them to the light and to a reality that I want to be a part of.
If you have not seen the change, if you have not heard the voice, if you do not have hope or belief in what we have in this country, go look at Barack Obama. There are clips of him in the news, on youtube, on his website. Read his policy. Read his hopes and dreams. They are good ones. And you might just find hope, real hope, blossoming in your own heart. Don't be too afraid, for I have learned that lack of action due to fear has never solved anything. Facing your fear, and doing something about it - that is where our true power lies. I will be hopeless and powerless no more.