Question of the Week:

What does the Obama victory mean to you?

Let us know here and we may share your thoughts later.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where do we go from here?

Almost a week into this, “New day for America” I have to ask, “Where do we go from here?” I ask this because I am not sure what direction exactly we as a country, will choose to go. I mean if you really think about it, I guess we have nowhere to go but up. I suppose it also matters how Obama does as President. So far, and I know he isn’t President yet, but the first positive I noticed was how the world reacted to his victory. Videos from around the world showed people dancing in the streets. And correct me if I am wrong, but I do not remember seeing images like that (even if those videos were false) since September 11th, 2001. To see the world celebrate something America did really says something about how they already view President-Elect Obama.

This is great for America because we will not have to dig ourselves out of the huge hole Bush will leave us in, in terms of credibility. The news that Obama asked Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff only adds to the respect Obama has received. Not only was it in the speed of the appointment, but also the fact that Obama chose someone who will help him get down to business that makes the World breathe easier.

Knowing that America has elected a leader the world has faith in is something we should all be proud of. For years we have been laughed at, booed, and our flag has been burned because of the terrible job Bush has done. Well now America has moved on, and luckily the world has moved along with us.

But I still have yet to answer my original question. Where do we go from here? I suppose it will help if I break this question down further. Have we truly entered “Post-Racial” America? What does this election say to conservatives? Are we no longer divided? Will Barack Obama be the change he says he will, and what happens if he fails?

Let us start with “Post Racial” America. This country, some could argue was founded on freedom, but built on slavery. It would be a mistake to forget that. But we should also acknowledge how far we have come in 232 years. Do I believe there will always be racism? Yes, unfortunately. However, I have seen that with each generation it can be less and less. It is true however, that hate is taught, and as long as there are parents who teach their children to hate, it will never go away. However I believe a “Post Racial” America is still something that we can achieve. We can put racism so far out to the fringes that it will no longer be such a contentious issue. Will this happen because Barack Obama is the first African-American President? No, but it is a great start.

We cannot talk about where America goes from just a liberal viewpoint. Of course, liberals will follow Obama wherever he takes them, but as he so poignantly says, “There's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America.” While this sounds great in theory the truth is, there is a liberal America and a conservative America. I know that this problem is one Obama wants to change more than anything about our political system, but as long as issues like Gay Marriage and Abortion exist, there will be a sharp divide in America. I was hoping that California’s Proposition 8 would not pass and we would begin to recognize more gay rights, thus taking away one of the biggest issues that divides liberals and conservatives. Unfortunately it did pass and we will continue to fight about this. Still, Obama is the President so what are the conservatives to do? It is my hope that they realize some of the huge problems we are facing and rally around him. At this point, I do not think they have much of a choice.

That takes us to being one nation supporting a President who offers us change. Barack Obama vows to change Washington and make politics better. He wants to dramatically change the way things work, and we gave him the mandate to do so. So as a country we can only go in the direction we hope President Obama will take us. We hope that he will continue to stand for an end to lobbying and negative politics. While the campaign is over all that negativity only leads to gridlock in Congress. Obama was great to run a campaign that stayed out of the mud, it bodes well for how he will deal with opposition to his platform. It shows that Barack Obama can have a respectful debate over issues that can lead to doing what is best for the American people. I can look forward to (at least) four years of that. That is such a refreshing change to the politics we have had (and the stalemate it has created) for the past eight years.

But I also mentioned “What if he fails?” What if Barack Obama is not the change he says he is? Well, for the moment I am not going to go there. I am going to have faith that this man, who the country elected last week to be the next leader of the free world, will be who we want him to be. I know change will not happen over night. I know he will have to fight through much partisanship at first. He is after all planning to change a very stubborn system, and there will be many who do not want to go along. But for now, I am ready to believe that we as a nation do go forward from here. We go forward past the dark times we are in now. It will not be easy, but there is a path to a better tomorrow. We as a country can move forward because we want to, we chose to. As a nation, we go forward because finally, we can.

Yes we can,


Friday, November 7, 2008

The Right To Be

"Change has come to America,” President-Elect Obama said as he claimed victory and spoke to the nation. Victory was achieved. We did it. We have moved forward as a nation. We have now entered “Post Racial” America. Now to be fair, I know racism will not go away, but perhaps this is what some can call, and let’s hope, “The beginning of the end.” We have torn down the wall, smashed through the ceiling, and have allowed young black children everywhere to say, “Anything is possible.”

But somehow, we have not moved forward. Somehow while taking one step forward we took two giant leaps back. And by this I am speaking about California’s passage of Proposition 8.

Somehow in the nation’s most populous state, on the night where Liberals claimed victory in the white house, screaming “Yes we can!” the conservatives won. Some how California, a state that (like Massachusetts) has been the trend setter in liberal ways let the country down. Somehow they have voted to once again put discrimination into the constitution, make citizens second class, and allow hate to rule.

Let it be known right here and now that this is a great injustice. Conservatives will say, “The people have spoken,” “True family values have won,” “It is a good day to be an American”

Is it? Is it truly a great day to be an American? Yes, we have just elected our first African-American President. This is great and should be celebrated, but how can we claim “change” and “progress” when with the passing of Proposition 8 we have not changed or progressed at all. In fact, we have regressed. In terms of equal rights, we have moved backwards. In this country Gay rights, Civil rights, and Equal rights should be the same. Have we not fought for years for oppressed minorities (who ironically and disgustingly voted heavily “Yes” on 8) to be treated equally? To think that we have come this far by electing Obama is commendable, but the passing of Proposition 8 shows us just how far we still have to go.

I am outraged because as an American I believe in equal rights. It is what this country was founded on. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” “And justice for all” These are the principles that people from all over the world come to America for. This is why we are a melting pot. We take the tired, the weak, and the poor. We take them all and give them a shot at the American dream. And what is the American dream?

It is the right to be.

The right to be me, the right to be you, the right to be a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew. It is the right to be happy and to pursue happiness. That is in the declaration of independence is it not? Was this not one of the principles this nation was founded on? To think that the founding fathers wrote, “That all men are created equal” to simply have this principle so out right ignored makes me, on a day where I should be proud, feel ashamed.

I am ashamed because in California, homosexuals no longer have the right to be.

I feel that I should end it there. However, it gets worse, much, much worse. It is worse because California also passed Proposition 2. Proposition 2 concerned the ethical treatment of animals. It asked that farm animals not be confined to cages, and be allowed to “fully extend their limbs and wings.” This is a great thing. I am glad that California passed this proposition. Animals everywhere can claim victory! But what does this really say?

It says that California voters believe animals should be treated better and have more rights than homosexuals.

Is this what America stands for? Is this what we want to represent to the rest of the world? A country that writes hate into their laws? A nation that treats people differently based on who they love and their want to express that love by spending the rest of their lives together? If this is the direction the country is headed, I fear that I will be ashamed for a long, long time.

“Change has come to America,” President-Elect Obama said as he claimed victory and spoke to the nation. Unfortunately for some, that change is not enough.

One love is not better than another,

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Well…it seems we as a people did it?! We came together and refused to be controlled by lies and the politics of fear. We elected a leader who does not take our intelligence for granted. We said no to a leader who continually insulted our intelligence during his campaign. Barack Obama is our new president. I do not have to hold my breath anymore. I do not have to skeptically hope any longer. It seems we as a people banded together and said we will not take this, not now, and not again. People got involved this time, and it showed. This was not a squeaker of a win. It was not close. The Electoral College was a landslide, and Obama won over 50% of the popular vote for the first time in years. It was a resounding victory, no doubts about it. Virginia went democrat! Florida went democrat! Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, Colorado, and New Mexico all went democrat! The supposed apathetic youth vote was NOT apathetic this year. The Bradley Effect…well…had no effect. And race transcended all of this. And it was historically beautiful, and singularly moving.

You see…Obama was not a “lesser of two evils” candidate. He was not a, “Well…he isn’t George W. Bush” candidate. Obama is a movement. He is, and represents, a movement of change, a movement towards change, and it was all created by the people and for the people. He is not a politician put in place by a party at power, or a politician that stole an election. Obama is proof that America is ready and willing to change. He is evidence that the majority of us are prepared to take a step into an entirely new and uncharted direction.

Obama represents the idea of a better and more promising tomorrow. He stands for the things that America so desperately needs. He stands for growing the middle class, ending dependence on foreign oil, the possibility of a post-partisan Washington, renewable energy, health care for all, environmental reform, international diplomacy, renewing our status and respect abroad, economic stability, and a military power that will not need to use its power until every other option is completely exhausted. And possibly more important that all of this…he is a leader that the youth of this country look up to, admire, respect, believe in, and not too far down the road, that generation will be the leaders of this nation. They deserve someone who will start to implement the changes that must be made for our nation to continue to thrive and flourish for many generations to come.

This was one of the dirtiest and nastiest campaigns of recent memory. I was glad to see that everyone refused to be swayed by the lies and distortions the McCain campaign so tirelessly spewed forth in their final weeks. I will, however, say this…I feel bad for John McCain. He was very gracious in defeat. I believe at his core, he is a good man, and an obviously dedicated to this nation. I feel bad for John McCain because I believe he surrounded himself with people that convinced him to take his campaign in a direction he himself would not have chosen. I feel that perhaps he saw this for what it was: His final chance at being elected president. And he panicked. He crumbled under the pressure. And I feel bad for him. Granted, I did not want him leading this country, but I do feel bad about all the “Worst Campaign Ever” headlines I have seen recently. Conversely, I DO NOT feel bad for Sarah Palin. She was never qualified for this position. And everyone who thinks she needs to run in 2012 needs to take another look at why the republican ticket lost this year, and realize that she represents all of those things. Politics of fear, lies, distortions, scorch the Earth politics.

And besides…how can you possibly run AGAINST Hope?

I think our country took its first step in the right direction. I am sure there are MANY who disagree. That is fine. I strongly believe that Obama can and will earn the respect of many in this nation. Maybe not those who still believe he is a terrorist or a Muslim. Maybe not those who still believe in a “Real America vs. anti-America.”

I think “Real America” resoundingly and convincingly spoke out on November 4th, and they chose to make a difference. They all chose to leave behind the politics of division. To leave behind the notion of a divided country.

We all chose to give a visionary leader a chance to make a difference, and in so doing, we all made a difference.

Congratulations…Our time has come.

Luxuriating in the deliciousness (thanks Cory Booker)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Carpe Postremo

Here we are, one day away from the biggest election of our lifetime. We are just hours away from finding out how ready for change America is. We have finally arrived at the moment we have all waited for. The chance to claim our future, to pick our destiny is now. And yet, I feel at a loss for words.

It isn’t skepticism. There is little doubt in my mind that Obama will win tomorrow. He may even win by a larger margin than some people are predicting. The thing that may be holding me back is the complete and utter fear of success.

I sit here imagining a better tomorrow, the tomorrow that Obama promises; A country where its citizens are given access to healthcare, where its students can afford to go to college, where energy independence is not only talked about in serious terms, but acted on. This is the future Obama promises, and tomorrow we can achieve it, or at least begin the possibility of success.

Perhaps it is the fact that things have been so bad for such a long time. I still remember images from Katrina, the awful pictures of death and abandonment. Maybe it is the recent stories of people losing their homes, and who could forget Bush’s speech about “America’s addiction to foreign oil.” Perhaps it is the pain of past failures that reminds me just how important tomorrow really is. This is not just another election. This is our chance to stand up and say we can do better. We will do better.

And maybe that is what gives me such a weird feeling. It could be the fact that America so strongly believes in something that will actually lead to us living better lives, lead us to being a better people. Maybe it is my lack of comprehension. I cannot believe that in my lifetime someone I believe in will have the opportunity to make a difference. In the past there were people like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy who stood for change, and had their opportunity taken away from them prematurely. There were also people before them like Gandhi, and Lincoln who created change and too, paid the price for it.

Or maybe that is what the feeling in my stomach is. The fear that we have the chance to bring change, but there will always be someone out there who likes things just the way they are.

It is the topic least talked about this campaign season. And I cannot blame anyone, but the time has come to mention it. We are about to elect someone who represents everything that the next generation believes in. This man will be called a hero because he is one. He is a champion for the middle class, for the working men and women in this country, and for their children.

Senator Obama represents change plain and simple. Given the chance he can lead our nation into one of the greatest chapters in its history, like John F. Kennedy, he will ask our nation to do great things because he believes in us. Like Robert F. Kennedy, he will stand up for the poor, because the middle class is slipping away into the upper class, and the “upper lower class.” Like Martin Luther King Jr., he will stand up for equal rights for all, not because he is a Democrat, but because he is an American, and as Americans we should want nothing less. And because he represents all this, I am terrified his chance too, will be taken from him.

I sit here writing, wanting to delete. I want to take this all back, and say we should not speak of things such as these. We cannot “put it out there,” if you will, but to remain silent would mean to pretend that it is not on the minds of millions of Americans everywhere. And that I am afraid, is untrue.

So, tomorrow I will get up in the morning. I will put on my Obama t-shirt, and I will go vote. I will then go home, watch the election coverage, and celebrate his victory. I will be proud of my country, of my generation for electing someone who represents nothing of the past, and everything of the future. Because that is really what tomorrow is about. This is what tomorrow brings. The opportunity for our nation to choose a leader we can seize the future with, “Carpe Postremo.” Tomorrow, I will watch Senator Obama take his place in history, and I will be happy to be alive during a time where so much can be done.

Then, when all the election coverage is over, I will sit here hoping, praying that he gets the opportunity to be the leader we so desperately need, so desperately want.

Remember to vote!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What Obama's "Commercial" Was

Barack Obama’s primetime television spot tonight was something different. It was not a message from a man assuming that he will win the presidency. It was not a message from an elitist, or an anti-American. It was not a message from a man not prepared for the presidency. It was not cocky or arrogant or presumptive (although I am sure McCain and Co. will say different…they have to).

What Obama’s television spot was, was a touching and emotional view of the country, its people, this election, what is at stake, what will change, and the (extra) ordinary man who intends to lead our country through rough times and bring about hope and change. We heard stories from people/families across this country struggling to make ends meet, struggling in this difficult economy. We heard about people who are retired having to take extra jobs just to pay for medication, take extra jobs because of cutbacks at work, and taking out loans on their houses to pay bills. And Obama told us all how he plans to fix those things.

Obama presented his policies and philosophies for America to hear and understand. So that they can know he is not a socialist or a communist or an elitist or anti-American. Never mind the production values and moving music of the half-hour spot…Obama showed America that he connects with the issues and problems facing us all. He connects with us. He misses his family when they are apart just like us. He connects with the average American (the average American that doesn’t spend $150,000 over a couple months for clothing). He intends to work for the people, serve the people, listen to the people, and change America for the better of the people. And after hearing what he had to say, I believe in what he stands for.

It feels as though this time, America is listening. America is ready for transformation. Ready for change. Ready for a leader that will do and achieve the things this country has so desperately needed for the last eight years.

I think Obama can win on Tuesday. Will he win? That is up to us all. Go out and vote. I did. Make sure your friends and family vote. Mine have/will.

Tonight President Bill Clinton gave an enthusiastic and powerful speech at Obama’s rally in Florida. Clinton left no doubt in my mind that he wholeheartedly supports Barack Obama. He also left no doubt in my mind that Obama is the right President for RIGHT NOW.

McCain’s secret weapon? This guy:

Joe the faux-plumber/pundit/hopeful politician/political analyst/author/country music star/expert on Israel/new McCain campaign surrogate, and Sarah Palin, the vice-presidential candidate that is already looking to her 2012 bid for president.

I think I just saw the kitchen sink fly out the window…

…and it was old and rusty.


What Obama's "Commercial" Should Be

Tonight Senator Obama has bought 30 minutes of network television. Now, I am not too sure what this commercial is going to contain, but I hope that it is not perceived as claiming victory before the votes are cast.

However, I am not worried about this. If Senator Obama has shown anything during this election it’s that he is intelligent, and he quickly learns from his mistakes. If you remember correctly Obama did reveal a quasi Presidential Seal that (some believe) was supposed to replace his famous red, white, and blue O. However it was perceived as being arrogant and presumptive and the seal quickly disappeared.

It just goes to show that Senator Obama, like a good leader should be, is adaptable. If anyone saw the Al Smith Dinner you saw that Obama knows his flaws and is willing to admit them.

Tonight should be a moment where we as a nation look to a man who, given the opportunity, can help restore dignity to the White House and our country. I will be watching tonight with millions of Americans, looking towards the future and a brighter tomorrow.

A Country Divided

(Our version of the electoral map. Click to enlarge.)

I am going to go out on a limb here and make a generalization…albeit a fairly harmless one. I believe that there are definitely two Americas today. And by today, I mean six days from the election. And by two Americas, I do not mean the left-wing-liberal-elite-nutjob-anti-America America versus right-wing-conservative-virtuous-moral-patriotic-to-the-core America (although I am sure there are some that will see it that way). I am talking about two Americas: One holding their breath and riddled with anxiety, the other, using all their breath to desperately state their case to win, what I hope is, a losing battle, and blame each other for why the republicans are losing.

I wrote about skepticism last week because I was not convinced this election is over, and I am still not convinced. It does seem, however, that most media outlets are convinced. All I hear and read about is how hard it will be for McCain to win this election. The only other topic dominating election news is how Sarah Palin will use this lost election to elevate her political career. By all accounts, it seems the McCain campaign is turning against their illustrious vice-presidential pick. Of course, on the surface, McCain says he “couldn’t be happier” which I think sits somewhere between “we’ve got them JUST where we want them” and “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” With leaks from the McCain campaign ranging from “she is a diva” to “she is wackjob,” I think McCain and Palin may just tear each other apart before we even reach the election. And if they somehow manage to make it that far, you can bet (in my humble opinion), that should they lose, they will be at each other’s throats with the blame game. I would love to be a fly on the wall in the room when they have that discussion. You know which discussion I am talking about. I am going to fictionalize it for you right now:

McCain: You know…you were never qualified to be vice president anyway. You ruined our chances.
Palin: Oh yeah! Well you aren’t a real maverick gosh darn it! And…there…too…also…I was the only hope you ever had!
McCain: And being able to see Russia from your house gives you foreign policy credentials?!
Palin: Your campaign kept me from attacking that anti-American un-patriotic Obama, and, there too…kept me from using Reverend Wright against him!
McCain: Your husband is a secessionist.
Palin: You’re old!
McCain: You’re a diva and a wackjob!

Ok you get the idea. There is going to be a whole lot of finger pointing come November 5th if McCain/Palin lose to Obama/Biden.

Now…the country divided. The McCain campaign is using all their breath, turning blue in the face, screaming at us all to vote for them, and save his candidacy. I cannot help but think there are two factions of McCain supporters left: Those who still believe he is the right candidate, have not given up, and are using all their breath to spread his message; and those who have lost all hope, are abandoning the perceived sinking ship, and placing any blame they can think of on McCain for the loss. I could be wrong, in fact, I am sure I am. I am sure there are others out there that do not fit in either category, but this is just my slightly skewed (who am I kidding…completely skewed) perception of things.

The other part of the country is the Obama supporters. Holding their breath, turning blue in the face, anxiously waiting in silence to wake up to good news Wednesday morning. We are holding our breath because; despite all evidence to the contrary, we cannot believe our candidate is actually winning. We are actually scared to hope. Scared to believe in what could be. Scared of the unknown. We want to believe, and we want to take heart in what seems to be a winning candidate, but we cannot because we have seen defeat snatched from the jaws of victory in the past.

The father of modern horror fiction, H.P. Lovecraft, once wrote: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

McCain has consistently manipulated our fear of the unknown to try and win this election. The McCain campaign has gone to great lengths to paint Obama (whether directly or indirectly) as a terrorist and anti-American. They have done all they can do (I hope) to make us fear an Obama presidency. None of these traditional fear-mongering tactics seem to be resonating. Could it be we are changing? Could it be we have seen enough of this in the last eight years? I think so.

As for holding our breath…we are fearful because we have no idea what the GOP is capable of…what lengths they will go to in order to win an election. I am hoping that this time around, we have seen all their tricks, they are no longer unknown, and are nothing to fear. We are no longer in the dark about what the GOP will do to win an election. They, and I say this with the most hopeful of skepticism; have nothing left to go bump in the dark with.

I am done holding my breath. I believe in the American people enough to see a truly transformational leader for what he is, and elect him to office. I believe and I hope.

I think now all we need is a little luck.