Friday, January 18, 2008

Obama's contagious optimism


A long time friend, a feminist, an African-American, a mature woman who has seen much trouble and much joy, sent me this letter about the Democratic Presidential hopefuls. I've been hard on Obama at times and continue to lean to Edwards, but I thought readers might find her letter thoughtful.

Given that all along I saw Obama, Clinton & Edwards as being fairly similar on the issues (not nearly as good as Kucinich, but way better than the Republicans), my choice of Obama had/has to do with 2 things.

One: I think it would be a major (positive) paradigm shift for an African-American to be elected president in this country. Of course it would be a major (positive) paradigm shift to elect a woman as well. But I disagree with those who believe that a woman has less chance than an African-American man. I think those who say that seriously underestimate the level of racism in this country. I think that both the racism and the sexism are so extreme and so ingrained that it is inaccurate, silly and counter-productive to argue over who is less likely to be elected (and who you therefore should vote for). The old (stupid) game of "whose is most oppressed and therefore most deserving?" Let's not keep this competition going.

Two: (and this is what edged Barack over Hillary for me), Barack comes across more as a real human being rather than the usual politician, which Hillary acts more like. He is incredibly honest for a politician. If you want to know what he really thinks, read his book, "The Audacity of Hope." If you want to know what his life has been all about (prior to being senator) read his autobiography "Dreams from my Father." He tells all (which we all knew would eventually be used against him in this race, as it now is beginning to be.) He doesn't pretend that he "didn't inhale." ...

Along with Obama's remarkable honesty (for a politician), is his great knack for inspiring hope in people. Honestly, I think Ms. Clinton may have gotten further in her own race as a result of the hope that Obama inspired in so many people that it may actually be possible in the here-&-now for this country to elect either an African American or a woman.

This is something so many of us could not conceive of happening in this backwards country in our lifetimes.

But Obama's contagious optimism helped a lot of people believe and throw their support behind him in great numbers, which led others to believe also that we could finally vote for someone we really support and they might actually have a chance to win, and so Clinton supporters also gained hope and courage and supported Clinton in great numbers and support for both of them began to snowball in a way that is unprecedented for either a female or an African American candidate for president of the U.S.

Anyway, I am supporting and voting for Obama, even tho I have serious qualms about the stance of all 3 democrats on Iran/Iraq/Pakistan &/or US militarism. Still, either Hillary or Barack would be a super big step in the right direction for this country.

Not how I read the campaign, but I certainly share that yearning for optimism. And I have to like a campaign that moves my friends to write serious letters about what they think of the candidates.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

Oddly enough, I'm voting for him for many of the same reasons as your friend. We know Obama is fronting some serious gangsters, just as Hillary is, but what he is offering is hope and sometimes that snowballs into all kinds of good things. I don't feel that way with Hillary.

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