Monday, November 3, 2008

I voted for Barack Obama

I voted for Barack Obama. I cast my absentee ballot in person at the City Clerk's office on October 30-- I waited almost 2 hours! I have to say, this is the first time I have voted for a Democrat for President. Colin Powell really said it best when he endorsed Obama a few weeks ago. He called him a "transformational figure." Before you jump to conclusions, hear me out...

As a freshman in college in 1981, I was taking political science classes , witnessing the newly elected Ronald Reagan's presidency unfold and decided to get involved in the political process. I joined the College Republicans. For those of you too young to remember (did I just say that?), the GOP was much different in the 80's. I chose the Republicans because although they best represented my views at the time--socially moderate, fiscally conservative with strong libertarian leanings.

It was only recently--the late 1980's-- that the evangelicals began organizing politically and then pretty much hijacked the Republican Party. I have come to believe that government plays an important role in our country, but have seen the devastating effects on our families, our food system, our environment and our standing in the world when public policy is driven by money, power and greed. This greed is not the domain of one party-- they are all wrapped up in it to some degree.

I have either voted for a third party candidate or in the case of the last two elections, written in a candidate for President. The candidate whose name I wrote in was John McCain. I had been following his career for quite some time and had a lot of respect for him because he was not afraid to take on some of the rightwing zealots who were in control of his party.

In November, 2007, his presidential campaign was pronounced DOA. Somehow, though, he was able to come back, but he was never the party favorite and if you listen to talk radio, the religious right was furious that he won the nomination. Then, instead of being true to who he is, someone convinced John McCain that he could fire up the Republican base (i.e. the religious right, who gave George Bush victory in 2000 and 2004 because THEY VOTE). Personally, I think this strategy is backfiring and I don't believe the religious right is going to come out for McCain. What clinched it for me was when he picked Sarah Palin as his VP. I knew that I could not vote for him. The question became-- now, what? Vote third party again?

Living in the city of Detroit, in the most segregated metropolitan area in the country, and being the mother of two African American boys, I feel like I have a perspective that many white folks do not, either because they have not had an opportunity to understand or just don't give a sh*t a.k.a. willful ignorance.

Colin Powell said it best when he endoresed Barack Obama a few weeks ago. Powell said on NBC's Meet the Press: "We've got two individuals, either one of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities — and we have to take that into account — as well as his substance (he has both style and substance) he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama."

I have my reservations-- mostly about the fact that the elected officials are beholden to those with the cash to support their re-election. But in the end, if the "only" thing that Barack Obama's election accomplishes is to help us resolve some of the longstanding divisions between races, that will be a miracle.

Stay tuned...Tomorrow will be an historic day!

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