Why I Am Voting For Barack Obama

I’ve taken my potshots at John McCain and Sarah Palin lately.  Childish, but fun.  I don’t think anyone can really disagree with my assessment in their heart of hearts, that is to say “Ahahahahahahahahahaha”.

I don’t want to joke about that right now, though.  I’ve talked about Barack Obama before, I’ve got his link right over there, obviously I’m a fairly left-leaning person.  I don’t support him because of doctrine, though.  I don’t support him because of his policies or his character or his judgement, though I consider those all positives.

I support him because I didn’t think I could support anyone.  Sure, come November 7th, I’d walk into the voting booth and push the button for whoever the Democratic nominee was.  I’d vote for Governor Warner, help him get elected to the Senate, I’d vote for my congressman Jim Moran.  I’d do it not out of enthusiasm though, or support, but out of desparation.

I’ve grown up in the shadow of the Capital, something I’ve often said drives people insane, and I really think it does.  I’ve said before how in the sixth grade, children of 11 and 12 had to be physically separated during the final vote during the Clinton Impeachment trial.  I was one of about six people who didn’t want to see him thrown out of office, in a class of over thirty.  We sat quietly at the far side of the room.  We knew that Clinton wouldn’t be thrown out of office.  The rest of the class sat huddled around the TV in the corner, jeering at every vote against conviction, as my teacher valiantly tried to stay in control.

That’s what Washington does to you.  It puts you in a box and then ship you to one side or another of the political fence and try to stick you at the extremes.  Black and white.  No gradients, no shades of gray.  People go nuts.  If you’ve ever seen Lewis Black perform, and wonder why he’s so angry, I’ll tell you why.  He grew up in the suburbs of this place just like I did.  And like him, I can’t go a day without seeing something that just pisses me off, and is going on not twenty miles to the east.

So you become cynical.  You become jaded.  At the age of 13, before myself or any of my cohorts could vote, the debacle of the 2000 election unfolded.  Instead of doing what normal 13 year olds might do, play video games, listen to pop music, etc, almost everyone I knew became embattled in the fight.  I remember people making Sore/Loserman pins during art class, or worse, at home, printing them out and wearing them around.  I remember nearly getting in fistfights with some of those people, because thats what it did to me.  Finally, when I was 17, and George W. Bush was re-elected, or elected for the first time depending on who you ask, I watched the attacks, as I walked to a bus stop after school to catch a ride home, I was pretty into the political process.  I didn’t have a car, still don’t.  I wore a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker on my messenger bag.  As I walked, some people would honk and cheer.  Others would honk and jeer.  Still others would stop and sneer.  I’m not lying.  This is just what the place does to you.

Finally, I had enough.  I wasn’t even old enough to vote and I was tired of the whole thing.  I didn’t think anybody could restore the most basic levels of sanity to my city, let alone my country.  I didn’t think anyone could pierce that shell of cynicism, the malaise of the disaffected.  Then, as I watched the primary campaigns much as Jane Goodall might observe the chimps, I started to pay more attention to what Barack Obama was saying.  More specifically I started to pay attention to the people around him while he was speaking.  The crowds, the grizzled veterans of political wars past who sat behind him and smiled, smiles that said “He’s saying what I can’t put into words”.  I saw him go from town to town, city to city, and the people around him didn’t seem caught up in “Obamamania”.   They seemed to be proud of their country again.  They seemed to be free of that cynicism, if only for a moment.  They seemed to believe in him.  They put their trust in him.  Slowly I started to get that smile as I heard him speak.  I started to realize that the maniacs weren’t the ones ecstatically cheering his every rhetorical flourish, but the pundits who were supposed to know how everything works.  Their constant squabbling, infantile, pointless.

They were just as encased in cynicism as I was.  Some of them, even started to say what they really thought.  Hell, they said what they really thought and felt and got mocked for it by their co-workers.

For all his policy proposals and oratorical talent, I don’t support Barack Obama for that.  I support him because he can crack open even the most hardened of cynics.  He can make them feel love for their country, their country’s promise.  I’ve gone from someone who was ashamed to be an American to someone who will stand up and debate a total stranger if they talk down to my country.  Its that feeling that more of us need to have.

At the very least, I’d know I’m not the last sane man left in Washington anymore.

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