Over the course of the last several days I've attempted to write a rousing endorsement of your candidacy. A last statement on why I think my blog readers and friends should vote for you. But my efforts never really panned out. You've made the argument for yourself better than I ever could. I've called complete strangers for you, something I don't enjoy at all, because you inspired me in ways I can't quite articulate.
Eight years ago I had a neighbor who voted for George W. Bush. He couldn't understand why in the world my father would support Al Gore. 'Gore will take your guns away,' he would tell my Dad over and over. And again and again my Dad would remind him that no President, Republican or Democrat, would ever touch the constitution. And that the constitution protects his right to bear arms. But the Republican party got good at marginalizing the issues, everyone bought into the party line of 'God, Guns and Abortion'.
I have a point here. Because one day, during these mildly heated front porch exchanges my Dad turned the argument around on our neighbor. My Dad is a Union guy. He was the first person to lead the march off of the job site to picket in support of unionizing the county road department. He's always understood the plight of the American worker. Our neighbor worked at the local Ford plant, so my Dad turned to him and asked him how he could possibly vote against the union and against his job.
That was it. The end of the exchange. The two simply agreed to disagree.
I don't need to say how this story has ended eight years later, but I will anyway. Eight years of failed economic policies have left this guy with no job, no health insurance and barely hanging on to his house. His wife now works at McDonalds. They had to let their brand new Ford vehicles go and take their children out of private school.
But by God, they still have their guns!
(Yet women can still legally get an abortion in this country. Oops, I guess Bush forgot all of those pro-life promises.)
By the time this election season rolled around I was tired. And fed up. Tired and fed up with people letting the Conservatives in this country act like they owned patriotism and religion. Tired and fed up with these issues dividing us. Tired and fed up with this insistence that you are either 'with us or against us'. Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. I was at the highest level of dissent.
Mr. Obama, your campaign has been a breath of fresh air. And you said it best in your Closing Argument the other day:
"Yes, we can argue and debate our positions passionately, but all of us must summon the strength and grace to bridge our differences and unite in common effort -- black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; Democrat, Republican; young, old; rich, poor, gay, straight; disabled or not. All of us have to come together.
Ohio, in this election, we cannot afford the same political games and tactics that are being used to pit us against one another, to make us afraid of one another. The stakes are too high to divide us by class and region and background; by who we are or what we believe. Because, despite what our opponents may claim, there are no real or fake parts of this country. There is no city or town that is more pro-America than anywhere else."
I am 15 minutes away from the end of this day. And I'm not planning on telling anyone on this blog to vote for you. I'm sure most of them have made up their minds, either way. I'm simply going to say this: if they still don't understand why I support Barack Obama then I'm not sure they'll ever get it. But I pray that someday they will. I'm proud of my candidate. I'm inspired. I'm hopeful about my future. And this ride, this election, has been an amazing one. I feel like I've been a part of history. And instead of feeling angry or hurt, I only feel sorry for anyone who hasn't felt it. Hope isn't just some buzzword, or something that can be made fun of. You reminded me of that,
"...Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting around the bend that insists there are better days ahead if we're willing to work for it; if we're willing to shed our fears and our doubts; if we're willing to reach deep down inside ourselves when we're tired, when we're worn out and we come back fighting harder."
Thank you for this election. Thank you for changing the way the political game is played in this country. Thank you for reminding us that there are no pro-America or anti-America parts of this country, and that education and intelligence are not things to be afraid of.
But most of all, thank you for giving me hope again. I was worried I'd lost it.