I wrote this on September 12, 2008 and posted it in a note on my Facebook account. In hindsight, I’m glad Obama stayed on message. Of course the economic melt down helped to reinforce the, “not 4 more years of the last 8 years” clarion call.
I have always been impressed with fine orators-those who know their way around a subject, predicate, and direct object. Those that can marry a command of language with the right inflection, intonation, and facial expression get my attention every time. Barack Obama had me enthralled at:
“It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.
Yes we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail
toward freedom through the darkest of nights.
Yes we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and
pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.
Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the
ballot; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who
took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and
prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this
Yes we can.”
His mastery of language, the written, and spoken word, however, is not why I am committed to casting my vote for the Obama/Biden ticket. I have personally reviewed his record in elected office, read his policy positions and memoir, observed how he has run his campaign, and looked at his voting record. He has the judgment, temperament, experience, and skill to be the commander and chief of these United States of America. Am I excited that he is Black and that his candidacy has almost shattered a glass ceiling? Of course. That his wife is a black woman considering who raised him speaks volumes to me on a gut level. (I won’t go into the content of those volumes now for that demands its own post:-)) Looking at a picture of his family makes me smile and stick my chest out with pride because rarely does the media show cohesive black families or anything positive that relates to black people.
You see, my decision for Obama involves two parts of my anatomy, my head and gut. Thomas Friedman’s op-ed today in the NYTimes says that Obama has lost his ability to connect with voters at the gut level. He writes, “But in recent weeks, I feel as though he has lost that gut connection. I thought his convention speech contained no memorable lines or uplifting visions. It never got me out of my seat. Forget trashing McCain’s ideas. If Obama wants to rally his base, he has to be more passionate about his own ideas.” I disagree with Friedman. Obama’s speech was right on target. It was the perfect mixture of rhetoric and details. It was a rallying cry to the base that we can’t give this country back to those who have plundered it these last eight years.
What changed? Well John McCain made his strategy play and in walks Gov. Sarah Palin. This choice is designed to appeal to folks at the gut level…only. It is seems to be working. Gov. Palin only has to be present, smile, and deliver the same stump speech over and over again. This is all it takes. Their campaign is nothing but lies and distortions of the truth. These so called mavericks are anything but that. Unfortunately, voters are swayed more by identity and cultural issues than by hard, cold facts. I am disappointed in those voters who don’t care about Gov. Palin’s history. She has passed their test because they can identify with her status as a working mom. She seems to share their values. Any attempt to question her claims or her record is treated as sexist or cries that she is being held to an unfair standard. The campaign won’t let her talk to the media. We, the voters, are not demanding that she, who could be the next VP, tell us (unfiltered) what she thinks and believes on a hold host of issues.
We, as voters, need to reject these appeals to our gut. Don’t be swayed by the politics of contempt and fear mongering. Look behind the stage craft and spin. Don’t let sound bites and stump speeches trump voting records, honesty, civility, and consistency. Don’t vote against your interests because of this co-opted message of “change” that’s being bandied around. Let’s remove the scales from our eyes and really examine the issues, leading with the head and not the gut.