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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Keeping the American promise alive

Here's Obama's bio video that was shown right before his historic acceptance speech.
Please watch it if you haven't already.

Just as a disclaimer, all this "Obama Fever" stuff is really new and alien for me. While I've been crazy about politics since I could remember, I've never been crazy about a candidate. Ever. I've never looked at a politician and thought he was an honest person worth my attention. I've never felt like "THAT'S my guy". I'm no idealist, believe me. I'm actually (I think) a true realist, hyper-grounded in reality and aware of my percieved reality at all times. I'm the guy that is doubting love when that new couple who seemingly just met get engaged and who is crippled by my self-awareness of social norms and mores instead of being myself. I'm not prone to flights of fancy or idealist dreams. ESPECIALLY with politicians.

It wasn't always like that with me. I have always been fascinated by politics, especially progressive lefty politics, even before I understood what it all even meant. Honestly, I've been a life-long Democrat. I remember, as a five year-old, taping pictures of Michael Dukakis to my room. Seriously, I would tear out pictures of the failed '88 presidential candidate from my Mom's People magazines and put them on the wall by my bed. I was devastated when I found out he lost the nomination to Bush. I don't know why I felt that Dukakis was my candidate. I later remember, as a nine year-old, staying up late in my room (unbeknownst to my parents) to watch Bill Clinton play the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show. He looked so awesome in his shades playing his sax, I was an instant fan (much to my Republican parents chagrin). I was so happy when he won that election.

But, as I grew older, I became disillusioned with politicians. I began to hold decidedly progressive political views, being interested in Karl Marx and especially socialism. My political views were sharpening, and I became interested in the politics of the poor, the disenfranchised, minorities, and the "little guy". I was no longer interested in legislating morality or politics "for the rich, by the rich". And I believed that all politicians were pieces of crap. They were all wealthy, (mostly) white, (mostly) men who cared little for the interests of the nation but who were more involved in helping out their rich buddies through lobbyists and special interest groups. I basically believed that one party was better than the other though, and that it was important to vote for the lesser of two evils (because there is ALWAYS a lesser of two evils), so I became a party man, and was not swayed by politicians. I voted for John Kerry in 2004, but I never LIKED Kerry, or felt like he was "my guy". He was simply a lot better than the other candidate (who isn't?), but I never identified with him. This also trickled down to local government. I could never see myself donating to someone's political campaign or going out and volunteering to campaign for some candidate. All politicians were hypocritical, wealthy liars who were poisoned by the corruption of power and Washington. If you had a (D) by your name, that was good enough for me.

And now, although I'm currently unemployed, recently moved to an unknown city alone and feeling the effects of the recession... and I just donated $30 to Barack Obama's campaign. I could never, EVER, have seen myself doing such a thing, especially in the economic state that I'm currently in. But this is what Obama has done to me. I'm a believer, for once in my adult life, in a politician's power to do what is right. To help us reach our dreams. I'm an idealist. I'm not only excited about a candidate, but I'm excited about our country and the direction that we're headed in. These last 8 years have been so awful, I guess it's prime time I get excited politically about SOMETHING. And Barack Obama has softened my jaded, socialist heart with his message of hope and change. And I believe in his message that this country can grow up and outgrow our dated feelings about race and the acceptance of others different than you or I. He simply personifies change himself.

And I feel like a little kid again, with my Dukakis pictures on the wall of our little apartment in '88... or in '92, staying up past midnight on a school night, huddling close to my tiny television to watch Bill Clinton get his Miles Davis on. I feel that Obama's message of hope can not only help change the direction of our country... it can help change me.

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