It’s been a long time since a politician has impressed me. For the most, they occupy the step on the ladder of morality just below that step reserved for attorneys. But this one, he is different. So different in fact that he reminds me in so many ways like the first (and last) politician who I admired, John F. Kennedy. What is it that connects these two?
First, they know how to speak in such a way that you listen. Their words are not simply tools to pick your pocket and bank account, but to touch your heart and soul, to remind us that we are here at a special time in the course of the world, the years occupied by our presence on Earth and our effect upon society and upon each other.
Barack Obama speaks to me. His speeches, all self-written, do not for the most part merely attack John McCain. In fact, in most of Obama’s major speeches, he hardly goes to that well. In his recent half hour of a paid television advertisement, he did not mention his opponents with a single reference. What kind of man spends that kind of exposure and those kinds of dollars and doesn’t take a swipe at his opponent?
A decent man. A man so full of new ideas and new ways of dealing with our place in the course of history that 30 minutes could hardly be enough time to explain his view of our world and our role in this special time and place.
I have been around since about the middle of the last century. During these years there have been precious few decent men who asked me for my vote for President. I was too young to vote for JFK. I wasn’t given the privilege to vote for his brother Robert, but I did cast an anti-war ballot for George McGovern.
Since then, the body of candidates who have emerged from the cesspool of party politics were more or less mediocre and ambitious relics of a political system based on greed, power and spoils that inure to the winners. The fringe candidates, well they were just that, fringe candidates. So what was left? Angry and disappointed, what was left was my own personal boycott of the process. Yea, I certainly taught them a lesson.
This time he is different. His voice and his vision are different. His words empower me to do better. His ideas compel me to think about how good we can be as a society and how much I can make a difference in my small slice of life and presence on Earth.
I remember those feelings, they were the same ones that appeared on my screen as a ten year old kid in Detroit, circa 1959, when this strange sounding man from Boston captivated the good in me and encouraged me to start paying attention to the bigger picture in my life and my role in it. He made me want to be better, be all that I could be, contribute to making my world a better place and not want nor expect anything in return other then the satisfaction that we did make a difference, a positive difference and all was not in vain.
Barack Obama has rekindled those aspirations in me. I am no longer an innocent ten year old. I am closer to the end, then the beginning of my reign on Earth. But unlike then, I am now old enough to vote, old enough to be a part of this voice for change and old enough to be proud and privileged to be a part of history.
I see the world embracing this man, a symbol of all that is good about the United States, honored that he and I are both Americans. Generation after generation are standing in line to hear his voice and listen to his words. He and they understand together the meaning of hope. I can no longer hide in my cocoon of indifference, withdrawn into the sullen void of, “They are all a bunch of crooks.”
Because this one, he is different, because this one reaches that little boy of ten, because this one makes this man in his fifties feel that he can make things better with a single vote, because of this, I am voting Tuesday, for Barack Obama.