Tuesday, October 14, 2008
A Place Called Hope
I am a teacher and a firm rationalist. I work hard to get my students to go beyond their initial reactions to things in order to examine WHY they feel the way they do. I admit that this can sometimes be a fool’s errand, since humans are notoriously opaque—especially to ourselves. But our opacity is no reason to settle for the surface.
Which is why I find myself admitting somewhat sheepishly that my bottom line reason for supporting Barack Obama is that he makes me feel hopeful.
There. I have said it out loud. I like the way Barack Obama makes me feel. I always have, from the first time I saw him speak. If I am fully honest with myself, I have to admit that it wasn’t WHAT he even said so much as how I felt as he was speaking. Later, as his campaign picked up steam, I started paying closer attention to his policy positions and was happy to find that I agreed with him on many issues.
But even if I hadn’t, I get the feeling I might have convinced myself that I did.
My reaction to Senator Obama tells me a lot about my state of mind over the past four years. I am an optimist who still believes firmly in the innate goodness of people when they are led by a leader who appeals to our finer natures instead of one who plays upon our fears.
Ever since September 11, 2001 I have felt that our President is simply scared poopless. He is way out of his depth and his reaction to the slaughter of innocent Americans on 9/11 has been one of endless fear. He is afraid of another attack. He is afraid of appearing weak. He is afraid of asking anyone for help. He is afraid he will be shown for the shallow party boy he is.
And he has found that his fear is useful. He has found that spreading his fear—amplifying what we already felt and even turning his fear into OUR fear--keeps him in office. Well, I don’t want to be afraid. In fact, I refuse to be afraid. And I certainly don’t want a President who makes all of his decisions in fear.
Barack Obama is not afraid. In this long campaign for the Presidency—first against Hillary Clinton and now against John McCain and the vaunted right wing electoral apparatus—Barack Obama has been poised and steady. He is not afraid of anything they throw at him. And he would not be afraid of anything circumstances, (or the Iranians), would throw at him as President.
I agree with Barack Obama’s health care proposals, his plan for removing combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, his tax reductions for 95% of U.S. Taxpayers. I agree with most of his positions. But honestly, I will vote for Barack Obama in three weeks because he makes me feel hopeful. I get the sense that many, if not most, Americans are tired of living in fear.
We want to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and face the future knowing that it won’t be easy. There are a lot of problems that we have been avoiding for too long. It is time to stop avoiding the future and to start shaping it in a way that is good for our citizens, the country, and the world.
I trust Barack Obama to have the guts to do that. I don’t think that the John McCain of the past three months has it in him to get down to business and do what is needed.