Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Obama, call me

I have to grudgingly admit that Hillary and her handlers performed well in New Hampshire. It really hurts me to say that but it is the unfortunate truth. During the weekend debates, she answered the questions thoughtfully and clearly, not a traditional Clinton trait. She also somehow managed to express a quite charm and a sense of humor. Her (staged?) tears on the campaign trail also humanized her a bit and, not coincidentally, created sympathetic support from the more soft hearted and headed among us. Even her post results speech was improved from prior performances. Her normal speech of, and I quote, “Me. Me. Me. Me. Democrat for president. Me. Me. ME!” at least added, “What you can do for Me. We can all come together to support ME.” Unfortunately, I don’t really care for her “Me” and I think the only people who should care if a democrat becomes president are the handful of democrats trying to become president. The rest of us simply want the best person for the job.
Ok, that wasn’t a direct Hillary quote, just what I hear when she speaks. Obama, on the other hand, is a fantastic speaker. I normally think of myself a grumpy cynic beyond inspirational speeches but last night I was jumping up and down in my bed shouting “YES WE CAN!” I haven’t seen any benefits from my New Year’s resolution to exercise yet, so after the third bouncing “YES WE CAN” I sat in my bed coughing out “Yes (pant) CAN”. I was still there in spirit.
Camp Hillary has rightfully challenged Obama’s experience. She doesn’t have that right based on her experience. While she is old and has been in the public light for way too many years, the majority of her experience is being the wife of a governor and then the wife of a president. I admit that gives her a leg up on how to order lunch at the white house but it doesn’t have any reflection on her ability to run the country. During those 16 years, she had no accountability and questionable successes. Next month my wife is going to give birth to another child. Our current pediatrician is wonderful doctor with a lot of experience. We plan on asking him to be the pediatrician for our new child. We don’t plan on asking his wife.
Obama’s experience should be challenged based on whether or not he can be an effective president. His inspirational speeches are phenomenal but as someone very out of touch with today’s reality might ask, “Where’s the beef?” Washington State for Obama lists a number of accomplishments at both State and Federal levels. These include a number of sponsored bills, ethics reform and expanding health insurance coverage. Most importantly to me was his judgment against going to war in Iraq before we invaded. My United States, not the one we live in but the principled proud United States we could live in, does not invade another country except in time of war and we don’t start wars. He continued his good judgment by being against the current administration’s desire to label Iran’s guard a terrorist organization. Of course, his judgment faltered when he didn’t actually show up to vote against it. It is hard to maintain respect for him when he didn’t show up for the vote, but that is better than Hillary’s voting to give Bush military powers against Iran.
I believe that Obama’s strength may be more in uniting and inspiring the American people than in his policy experience. I’m quickly becoming OK with that. The government is not and should not be the answer to all of the problems facing our nation today. The greatness of the United States has always been based on the actions of individuals acting alone and in concert. Individual responsibility and motivation is missing today. Obama may be able to inspire the people to accept the responsibility to act. I long to be inspired. I don’t remember ever being inspired by a president. The time for inspiration may be now. I hope the time is now.
Note I said Obama may be able to inspire us. He certainly has inspired a dedicated following that is giving the “inevitable” candidate a challenge. Obama does not have to become president before he inspires us (beyond trying to inspire us to vote for him). He should begin his call for greatness now. If his message is heard and people act, his candidacy is almost certain. If people fail to get inspired enough to act, than Obama’s power is not great enough and we should consider another candidate.
There are three ways an individual act to restore our greatness. First, we can elect competent respectable leaders. Obama is working on that one, assuming that he is both competent and respectable. Second, individuals can make their voices heard beyond helping Hillary have a Doctor Phil moment. Individuals can email elected officials from president and senators down to city selectmen. Tell them what you value and what you expect from the officials if they are to have you support for their next election. Tell them to act now. Additionally, individuals can email corporations and other organizations with similar lists of principals and calls to action. Third, individuals must act on their own principals. Individuals can select items to purchase or boycott based on sets of principals from “Buy American” to “Save our planet”. Individuals can turn off the T.V., park the SUV and volunteer in their local schools or hospitals. I call on Obama to call on the American people. He wants to inspire us. I want him to inspire us. Obama, inspire us now. Don’t wait until 2009.

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