Posted by: mutantpoodle | October 10, 2008

Why it matters

I’m north of the border, and not as obsessively engaged in the death gasps of John McCain’s increasingly putrid Presidential campaign. But I’ve seen enough – his interview with Fox “News” “Journalist” Sean Hannity, granted so that someone – anyone, please – could ask him about Barack Obama’s crossed paths acquaintance friendship torrid anti-American affair with Bill Ayers.

Obama, to his credit, and in his genial way (above), suggested that if hearing about it was really important to John McCain, he could, you know, bring it up in a debate.

Joe Biden was more direct in calling McCain a coward:

“John McCain could not bring himself to look Barack Obama in the eye and say the same things to him,” he said to cheers. “In my neighborhood, you got something to say to a guy, you look him in the eye and you say it to him.”

But all that’s a sideshow. I realized this morning, in the crisp morning air of Vancouver Island, why I am so excited by the prospect of a President Obama.

It’s not because he’s a Democrat, although that certainly helps.

It’s not because his election would be a giant first step towards restoring the United States’ image around the world, although that’s pretty important.

It’s not because he wants to get us out of Iraq and understands the limits of force in general and as a weapon against terrorists specifically, although that, two years ago, would have been plenty.

And it’s not because he’ll have a sane tax policy, or appoint Judges who might have actually read the constitution, or work to move us away from fossil fuels, and make policy based on rational thought as opposed to rigid orthodoxy, although those are all good things.

It’s because it’s about fucking time we had a President who strove to be President for all of us.

There was a moment during Tuesday’s debate, when Obama talked about “sharing the burden,” that I stopped in my tracks. We’ve spent eight years with a governing philosophy that revolves around finding some “other” kind of American to blame for the fact that your own life is more difficult. Liberals who want to take your money and read terrorists their rights. Illegal immigrants who are taking your jobs – even you were a mid-level executive where immigrants had nothing to do with the layoff that included you.

I’m ready for a country where someone makes the compelling case that we all rise and fall together, not that we should cling (dripping wet in the murky water), to someone’s yacht as the tide lifts it up. A rising tide may life all boats, but for too long no one has made sure all of us have boats – no matter what size.

One of the benefits of having a community organizer as President is that he gets the power of aligning people’s interests – a thought that must terrify the Rovian wing of the GOP. And why McCain and Sarah Palin – is there an uglier shallow vessel in the political world? – are busy highlighting Barack Obama’s “otherness”. His middle name is Hussein! He was best friends with a terrorist! He’s an elitist! He’s a liberal! He hasn’t done anything (but what he has done is very very liberal)! We don’t know who he is, except when we know he’s a liberal!

As I have mentioned before, I know people who are Republicans. They worry about their friends and families; they want their kids to get a good education; they want to be safe, and they want this country to be safe.

The are not monsters. Their basic needs and goals are the same as mine. We merely disagree over the path.

When you look at this campaign, ask yourself this: who is trying to fracture this country, and who is trying to bring it together? At whose rallies do attendees refer to their candidate’s opponent as a traitor, or yell “kill him” or “off with his head”? Who separates disagreements on policy from demonization of the man?

When this embarrassment of a campaign is over for John McCain; when he slinks back to the Senate and Sarah Palin skips back to Alaska to plan her inevitable run for the Presidency, we will be left with a President-Elect who has managed, in large part (nobody’s perfect) to maintain his decency and equilibrium and to not personally savage his opponent along the way.

There are lots of reasons to vote for Barack Obama on November 4th. But if you’re looking for a reason to be excited about doing so – well, the prospect of a unifying figure as President does it for me.

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