Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why I Voted For Barack Obama

I try to stay away from the back and forth bickering between the Clinton and Obama camps, because the Flying Spaghetti Monster knows that there is tons of poison to sample everyday; but this is over the top.

Tom Buffenbarger president of the machinists' union (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers) was the the latest in a string of Clinton junkyard dogs unleashed upon Obama. Prior to Hillary Clinton’s speech last night in Youngstown, Ohio, Buffenbarger delivered nothing short of an Obama diatribe.


Buffenbarger called Obama a “thespian,” and he sarcastically referred to the junior senator from Illinois as a “wunderkind.” He compared Obama to “Janus, the two-faced Roman god of ancient times.” And he pleaded with the crowd to boo Obama’s labor record.

There is a lot more the man who introduced Hillary Clinton last night in Ohio had to say about Obama and his supporters. I encourage you to check out the link for more if you're interested in consuming a plate of rotten garbage at such at an early time of the day (at least in my time zone, it's early).

What is going on with the scorched earth politics? I understand that Clinton has had a very, very bad month since Super Duper Tuesday, but really, attacks like this only reinforce the message that Barack Obama's campaign exudes.

We cannot wait. And one year ago, one year ago when I made the decision to run, it was based on the belief that the size of our challenges had outstripped the capacity of a broken and divided politics to solve.

And I was certain that the American people were hungry for something new, that they were tired of a politics that tears each other down. They wanted a politics that would lift the country up, that they had grown weary of a politics that was based on spin and P.R. They wanted a politics that was based on honesty and truthfulness and straight talk to the American people.

I was convinced, most of all, that change in America does not happen from the top down. It happens from the bottom up.

As a product of nearly 15 years of community mobilization and youth empowerment efforts in Arizona, I look on Obama's candidacy as an opportunity to convert stagnant energy into something kinetic. It's ironic that, while he certainly inspires me, I don't really view his possible Presidency as being about him - it's about us.

Almost every day I have a friend or co-worker pick my brain about politics, and that is something that is way out of the norm. There is a civic engagement that is gripping neighborhoods across the country that seems out-of-place in this era of bigotry, economic collapse and war. My fear is, though, that people like Mr. Buffenbarger will continue to deceive whomever is within earshot that the nugget of optimism being experienced by many people is nothing but empty rhetoric.

There's something going on that I haven't quite been able to articulate, but as a rare player of chess, can see that it is something that Obama supporters - and perhaps even the official campaign itself - will need to address. I call it the Missed Train phenomenon.

As excitement and momentum continues to build for Barack's candidacy, it is very easy for those already hooked into the messaging to engage in nonstop hi-fives and, dare I suggest, arrogance? The problem with it is that we all have different life experiences/pasts and influences around us. We all receive information differently and it would be folly to assume that if someone doesn't "get it" that it's somehow their fault. Humans, as we all know, are complex beings and we are going to interpret campaigns and rhetoric in a diverse way. That's life.

This has all been speaking to the emotional aspect of politics. The issues side of it is a whole other beast that can easily be tackled by a review of the candidates' platform pages at their websites. This other stuff is not so easy.

Leading up to the day Arizona voted on February 5th, I remained decidedly undecided on who would get the oval filled out next to their name - both John Edwards and Barack Obama were offering me something that I could support. Dennis Kucinich, too, can't forget Dennis; but I know how to vote strategically just like the next person.

When John Edwards left the race, my vote went solidly to Barack Obama. He was always there, his background nagging at the back of my heart. The possibility of a President who has grappled so hard with issues of identity and race, and what it means in America to be slathered with stereotypes by people who have no idea who you are or what you're capable of - that's why I think he's an amazing leader. He turns the entire system of how we treat one another on its head. Both he and Michelle will be paragons of advocacy for a more just society. Indeed, they've both spent their lives doing that hard work that many Clinton surrogates claim does not exist.

It also helps that I, mostly, agree with him on the issues. He earned my respect a long time ago with his denouncement of in 2006 with this speech in Chicago at the Human Rights March that saw hundreds of thousands of people take the streets in protest against the abhorrent HR4437 immigration tantrum.

Duke has more at Migra Matters on Obama's willingness to stand up and speak out during those days. It reveals to me a candidate who understands the complexity of what we're dealing with when it comes to an overhaul of the immigration system. A "Yes or No" answer will not suffice.

This is just a nugget of where my thinking is today. I don't think any of the candidates are perfect, but there's only one who is directly challenging the public to mobilize. Even if all the accusations of shadow-boxing turns out to be true, or Obama is some trojan horse centrist (I don't think he is, but can understand how his message can be interpreted that way), the passion he and his campaign are igniting in the streets of this country will not be snuffed out easily.

There will be a mandate laid upon the doorstep of the White House, and whoever lives there will have an obligation to fulfill it.

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