Last night I watched, amazed, as Barack Obama became the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party for the office of President of the United States of America. From the moment he entered the race I have been impressed with him. At almost 50, I had never before provided direct financial support to a presidential candidate. But this time was different. I sent funds out of almost every paycheck I received since he entered the race. I spoke about him to everyone I knew. (Many members of my immediate family chose to support Hillary Clinton.) Last night, part of his speech really resonated for me:
"The other side will come here in September and offer a very different set of policies and positions, and that is a debate I look forward to. It is a debate the American people deserve. But what you don’t deserve is another election that’s governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon – that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first."
Religion as a wedge. Patriotism as a bludgeon. This is what has made me the angriest during the days of George W. Bush and Carl Rove. Their message always implied that to disagree with them meant I was not religious and not patriotic. I received countless emails from Republican members of my extended family that contained that general message. Each receipt made me furious.
(It also amazed me that so many people for whom I felt great love and admiration so easily took that message up rather than question the lack of logic. They knew me and other Democrats in the family. Why did they swallow that crap? Why didn't they say "No, I know many people who disagree with this war and these policies who are very religious and very patriotic.")
And how exactly did the Republican right subvert the "support our troops" message? Somehow it came to imply that folks who wanted to bring the troops home did NOT support them and those who wanted the troops to stay at war were supporting them. How did they do that? Why did we let them?
Enough about that. Today I am turning towards optimism. Barack's speech last night also contained these words:
"The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations."
Barack Obama has my prayers and good wishes. I will be watching the next few years with great excitement and anticipation!