Friday, October 31, 2008

Barack Obama for President

The urgency of electing this man—with his curiosity, his compassion, his steadiness, and his pragmatism tempered by idealism (not the other way around)—seems to me blindingly obvious yet worth saying and repeating. Only fear of his otherness, which the Republicans are pushing hard, would seem capable of derailing him now. I hope it won't happen. I've read all the polls, I've heard many anecdotes, and I think it won't happen. Barack Obama is our next president. But will he win a powerful enough mandate to counter the vitriol, hatred, and cries of illegitimacy that will be coming from the radical right-wing margin that dictates the agenda of the so-called mainstream? If you thought the wingnuts were at their nuttiest during the Clinton years, you ain't seen nothing yet.

So let's vote for him in vast and overwhelming numbers. Let's see all the new voters that the pundits are so skeptical about actually show up at the polls. Let's suspend for just a moment our natural skepticism and believe, not in Obama the man, but in what he's come to represent. Not so much a new politics, for I don't recognize the "Obambi" figure that Roger D. Hodge laments in his extraordinarily cynical "Notebook" piece in the latest issue of Harper's. Obama's thrown plenty of elbows: this has been the most efficient, ruthless, anti-Roveian campaign a Democrat could wish for. I hope and expect that Obama will play the game that needs to be played—not a post-politics (as another Harper's piece suspects and fears) but a politics that effectively mobilizes the majority of the people to act in and fight for their own best interests: a well-managed economy that is also a green economy; a foreign policy that wins friends, influence, and partners; health-care as a human right; peace. Will Obama bring about these things? Almost certainly not. But he might be the tipping point which helps all those thousands of people who've turned out to see and hear him realize their own power, contra Hodge, and take new responsibility for their own destinies.

Michael Schaivo has said all this more eloquently than I, so go read him and forward that to your friends and relatives on the fence. And go vote.

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