Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why Obama?

At first I didn’t know why. A year ago, when all the presidential candidates were doing the same thing as they are today, campaigning, a lot more of us weren’t ready to pay that much attention to them. I wasn’t ready yet. I mean, 2006 just ended and the talking heads were getting jittery about an election in 2008.

But 2008 is finally upon us. This means, regrettably sometimes, that the nonstop coverage of the candidates’ parade around the country is justified, and almost necessary for those that have managed to stay mysteriously uninformed about who is running for president in 08.

One of those running is Barack Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois. He is the youngest Democrat in the field by eight years, and the youngest of all the candidates by six years. Obama is 46 years of age in a field of candidates in which the average age is 60. A tactic employed by Obama’s greatest competition, Hillary Clinton, is to touch upon this fact regularly in debates and press conferences. She thinks by doing so she will enlighten the masses about this man’s apparent lack of experience in politics.

There is a big problem though. I, and, I think, many others out there, don’t and can’t possibly equate experience in politics with smart decision making, a moral high ground, and leadership qualities; maybe in another era, but not this one. “Experienced” politicians have committed adultery in the Oval Office. They have unexplainably launched missile attacks at overseas targets when the heat was on them in America. They have squandered the immediate post-9/11, pro-American surge across the world with a misguided war in a country not responsible for the deadliest terrorism attack on US soil. They have used the most capable of minds to bend, shift, and change the law as they see fit.

Typically, experience is not a bad word, but recent politicians have tarnished its spit-shined image. Now, from experience flows polarizing agendas, dusty speeches, and low-ball tactics on the campaign trail.

The critics of Obama’s experience are right. He doesn’t have decades of practice behind him. He was born in the 60s, early enough to not possibly have been assimilated by the partisan politics of Washington. That’s why I like him.

I don’t think I take to too many trends easily. At first, I didn’t warm to Obama at all because he was so popular. My cynical nature refused to get excited about this man. After all, it was clear that he didn’t need any more people being excited about him. I did my best to avoid Obama and his throngs of fans, but that was all but impossible leading up to the primaries.

As summer turned to fall I started reading a lot more about the junior Senator from Illinois. He appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He was all over the blogs. He was in Time and then on the cover of Time. And, by then, I was hooked. I could no longer look at him and tap into my bank of cynical comments about untrustworthy politicians. I recognized this ability in him to comfort people across political parties, something that I have never seen a politician do. I, being 24, have lived my life reading and learning about legendary politicians like John F. Kennedy, to name one, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live during the life of a leader like that. The more I watch Obama, the more I feel like I am witnessing a revolution in the political landscape of America and, most importantly, a reversal of the status quo.

Maybe Bill Clinton was right. It all sounds like a “fairy tale” and I am caught up in it. But I have seen the alternative. I don’t want it and, I am not alone.


Jarrod Renaud said...

I think I'm with you.

Marissa B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marissa B said...

I am with you on this one, brother. I was upset at the outcome in New Hampshire, but I doubt that Hillary's good fortune will last much longer-- and I would just like to add that Hillary's line, that went something like, "In listening to your voices last week, I found my own..." made ME want to cry-- out of pity, but that term is even stretching it.
As for my mom's car... well, it's actually not on the list. I was just messing around.
I was hired at the great Bucks-- my first day of training will be on Monday. I'm a little nervous... but the Bucks is a good place. You enjoy it, right?