My Candidate

by Stephanie Casher on January 29, 2008

“There is not a liberal America, or a conservative America. There is the United States of America.”

These are interesting times. I’m not sure how many of you are following what’s been going on in the political arena these days, but the Democratic Party will be nominating either a woman or an African-Amercan as their candidate for President of the United States in the next election. Read that again. We are on the verge of something truly historic, and I for one have been tuned in and on the edge of my seat for months watching the Democratic Primaries drama play out. I’m telling you, this is better than any soap opera. This is a moment pregnant with potential, the signal of a radical shift in the trajectory of this nation. A trajectory that, in my opinion, desperately needs to be changed.

This seems to be the season of endorsements (earlier this week, several members of the Kennedy clan came out with a major endorsement), so I figured it was time for me to weigh in on the blog in support of my candidate. On February 5th, aka Super Tuesday, I will be casting my vote for Senator Barack Obama.

On June 12, 2007, I attended a fundraiser for Senator Obama in San Francisco and had the opportunity to hear him speak for the first time. To quote the cheesiest of all cheesy lines, the Senator, literally, had me from hello. His energy, in person, is like nothing I’ve ever experienced from a political leader. His idealism is so refreshing. His passion and enthusiasm, infectious. He exudes sincerity and integrity. He has the power to inspire hope in the most jaded of people (myself included), and he makes you believe in the possibility of a better future, a better world.

I left Ruby Skye that night with a very strong feeling that there was something very “special” about this man. I immediately got my hands on Barack’s memoir, Dreams from My Father, and was totally won over by his candor, courage, and willingness to really “put himself out there” by giving people a glimpse into his life and struggles with identity. I felt an instant kinship with him in his journey to find his place in the world, as the stories he told mirrored so many of my own narratives. I suspect many people–black, white, or other– could find something in his life story that they could relate to.

What inspires me most about Senator Obama is that he is a visionary. He’s not afraid to dream, and he believes that dreams can become reality. As he’s fond of saying, he’s living proof that you can go a long way on dreams and hope. And he believes in the possibility of people coming together to enact CHANGE. He is so evocative of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or JFK in that way. He believes the people can take back this country, that the government should be held accountable, and he’s ready to lead the way. Barack Obama, more than any other candidate, stands for truth, and the American public deserves to be told the truth by the people we trust to lead us.

The biggest concern people have about Barack’s viability as a candidate is his lack of “experience.” But I would like to point out that every President relies heavily on his Cabinet and advisors to, well, advise him. So as long as we trust that Senator Obama is smart enough to surround himself with the right people, what we really need to examine is the integrity and intelligence he brings to the decision-making process. Barack is pro-communication. He gathers information so he can make thoughtful, informed decisions. He listens to people. He seeks to find the common ground, because he understands that, deep down, we all want the same thing. Having lived abroad, he gets that the United States is not the Center of the Universe. I believe what he brings to table as a diplomatic leader makes him uniquely qualified to deal with some of the challenges we face in terms of foreign relations. He really wants to heal our world. That’s gotta be better than a leader who tries to get peace by bombing the shit out of everyone.

Folks criticize Barack for being “naive”, or spin his youthful idealism as a negative characteristic, but I am living proof of Obama’s supernatural ability to inspire hope and enact change. After the 2004 election, I was ready to pack up and move to Canada, so fed up with American politics, the Bush administration, and the scary, scary path our leaders had put us on. I was resigned to the fact that we were just doomed, and I didn’t believe for a second that the jaded, apathetic masses could be mobilized to do anything to battle the forces of greed and corruption. But Barack Obama changed all that. For the first time, I feel hope that things can change for the better. That our nation can rise above the superficial differences that divide us (like color or gender), and get on the same page to work towards a common goal. Like taking care of our planet and addressing global warming. Or world peace. Cause as human beings, we are about to have bigger problems than these petty squabbles and pointless wars. We need to wake up already, before it’s too late.

I respect everyone’s right to support the candidate of their choice, and many people I love will be casting votes very differently from me come election day (that’s okay–I still love ya :-) But I feel very passionately about my candidate, and wanted to make sure I did my part to add energy to the Obama movement, the movement for Change. But don’t just take my word for it. Educate yourself. Read Barack’s candid and moving autobiography, or his other book, The Audacity of Hope. Visit his official website and read about his stance on the issues. Read about him on Wikipedia. Check him out on myspace. Listen to his victory speeches in Iowa or South Carolina on youtube. If you have the opportunity to hear him speak in your hometown or a nearby city, GO. And if he manages to win you over, as he did with me, do your part and spread the word…

Generation Obama in the House!!! WE WANT CHANGE!!!

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