Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's so exciting.... see a new generation of voters getting inspired about a candidate; and it is even more exciting that we have an inspiring candidate for the first time since 1988. So I have included below some comments by somebody other than me, information I found fascinating to read and have decided to share.

GUEST COMMENTATORS: New Mommy Dialogues on Politics

My brain hurts from all this [election talk] and I need someone with a clear head to help me sort through it. I have absorbed and am beginning to comprehend more political facts (and rhetoric) in the past year than I have ever cared to in my adult life. I'm no Huffington or Steinem; I don't put my thoughts down as cohesively as I usta could, but please bear with me.

When my mother jumped on the Air America/Greg Palast/MSNBC bandwagon three or so years ago, I did not engage. Palast's investigative reports on foreign affairs, the Katrina debacle, the Bushs' financial ties to Saudi princes, the film Zeitgeist, and many many others were fascinating to watch during family visits. I would sit with my jaw wide-open in disbelief and exclaiming, "That's despicable!" But as soon as it was time to change a diaper, mix a bottle or whip out a boob, all of that information was redirected to the "there's nothing I can do about it" file in my brain.

I dismissed it all because as a new wife and mother I simply did not have enough room in my brain to lend any of its precious energy to dialogue that was over my head and of little or no perceived immediate consequence to me or my new family. She could not understand why I was not in tears like she was over Darfur or "the war for no reason in Iraq." One Thanksgiving after I raved about one of my daughter's accomplishments, she thoughtlessly interjected, "I used to think my daughter was brilliant until a few years ago...pass the cornbread...."

I later defended myself, but my point is that she has always been so politically charged and could not understand why I was not, particularly NOW. She couldn't understand how I, who had always been so headstrong and gung-ho & "fight tooth and nail to survive," had become complacent and depressed-- content with the fact that getting from sunrise to bedtime was the only energy I would ever be able to muster. I was just fine going day to day trying to ensure we had diapers and special (more-expensive) formula and bills paid, trying to make sure I got an A+ at each well-baby visit, trying to make sure I was accomplishing wifely duties and keeping the complaining about loss of self and career to a minimum.

But things have changed. And with due respect to Mrs. Obama who said it first (so far), for the first time in my adult life I am really proud of this country! There has been a shift in my perspective and that shift is Barack Hussein Obama's fault. Yes, I am offended when I hear Hannity or Limbaugh or O'Reilly referring to me as a misguided dreamer, an idiot for getting chills when this "American Idol" speaks. Aside from the obvious fact that I identify with him and the way he was raised, (our upbringing was similar; raised in a white family with little or no black influences, an extensive internal search for identity and place in society and raised by thinkers who are not afraid to go against the grain), Barack Obama has proven the ability to engage people like me in this process. He has inspired millions to take part in this political process because we actually feel like our opinions are taken into account. We are sick and tired of politics as usual. The people have spoken and it's time the conservatives stop poo-pooing us and take notice. I'm preaching to the choir here so I'll move on.

My life has been replete with disappointment and unrealized dreams; partly due to unrealistic expectations (1) of myself and (2) of other people to simply do the right thing. I have become a cynic; do people really have my best interest at heart? Really?

The reason I write this is that I am feeling emotionally charged but extremely vulnerable. It has only been 40 years since the civil rights accomplishments. It has only been 50 years since schools in the south were integrated and met with unspeakable hostility. Those people who fought those changes are still alive. We will never truly know how many still think that way. I suppose it will come out at the polls. If Barack Obama receives the nomination and is perceived to be the projected winner of the election, I don't trust the extremists & corporate bigwigs in this country to just sit down and take it. There is too much for them to lose if he is our President.

If, for example, Obama is assassinated, what good can he do the world then? On the other hand, why shouldn't the staunch conservatives just go ahead ease up a bit. We're talking about four years. If the majority of the people want a change in the way DC is operating, what is so horrible about giving Obama a chance? Let's give this "change" a shot for four years. Lord knows there will be people falling in line to replace Obama if he takes us in the wrong direction. Would it be so horrible to see how this goes for a few years? In the grand scheme of things, is four years that long? Policies can be amended or undone. And it's not like the (Ds) and (Rs) in congress are going to unanimously agree with everything the Pres wants. How often is that the case? And what is going to be done about filibusters? Can that continue? How is a Democratic president going to get anything done?

For years I have been announcing that I have very few organic opinions. I wait for smart people (George Carlin, Jon Stewart, Randy Rhodes, my mother, and lately political commentators and my friend Brigetta ) to form them for me. But when Obama speaks, I understand what he's saying. He's talking about me and my family. He breaks it down in a way that my exhausted brain can intake the information and process it. Whether or not he serves as President of the United States of America, he has served as the catalyst for change. The (Rs) are listening. They see what moves people now. How many people out there have considered themselves Republican all these years and are now aligning themselves with the Dems. They are seeing how damaging the true conservative viewpoint can be.

So, after this little peek into my brain, you can see that I have no idea what I'm talking about. I have probably misperceived the facts & this is where I look to you for guidance. Tell me what points I have made correctly and steer me where I am wrong. thank you for your time.


First off, what a delightful read! You underestimate your skills in expressing your views, maybe because you don't realize the value in communicating mixed feelings this articulately. I very much enjoyed reading this email over and over again.

On being a mom and being a person, more on that in another email (more too, on mothers and daughters and their differences in that email), but let me assure that when Ruby was your children's ages, I was pretty much unplugged. I had only the most vague idea what was going on in the world around me. My energies were all consumed by trying to provide (physically, emotionally, mentally) for my young daughter. Even now, when political discussion turn to the events of the early to mid 90s, I fall silent. I don't know all that much about that time, so I tend to just listen.

My point being, as a mother of young children, your priorities are necessarily shifted. Your children are your main focus and there is nothing wrong with that. Your mother may have been able to immerse herself politically when you were so young and if that's true, I applaud her. I was not like that myself, and I know this is true of a great many women. Most mothers are trying to do their best and I for one believe that we just have to be 'good enough' mothers and 'good enough' people. We are so hard on ourselves. Everyone else is going to be hard on us, I, for one, finally learned to cut myself a break. ;-)

On to this specific political season; this is amazing. What is happening around us is unlike anything that has happened in my adult lifetime, and I question whether this might not be a first in American history on many more levels than just race or gender.

I'm 46 years old this year, I missed the energy of the '60s and I'm not saying that this era is like the '60s, but there might be some similarities. Something is sweeping through us, through US, the 'little' people. It's very surprising to me, after the past eight years. We've been made to feel as though we couldn't matter, we couldn't make a difference, that our government was bought and sold and out of our price range. There has been an era of apathy that whithers the soul, and who would have imagined that it could possibly shift so dramatically?
Not I.

Obama's amazing gift is less about him and more about what he evoked in US. It's a shame that this quality is being derided in the press, derided by people who are too cynical to allow themselves to use their hearts along with their heads, to use intuition AND logic to try to process what is happening in our country and where we are trying to go now. In that sense I think Obama has evolved into a symbol. Symbols can be incredibly powerful, it would be a great mistake to down play the importance of symbols. He seems to represent a probable future in which we DO matter, in which we CAN make our voices heard, in which there is a way out of some of this quagmire that we've been sinking in over the past many years.

I am not saying that symbolism alone can turn this situation around. I'm saying it's a start. I do feel that his abilities have the capacity to reach across lines and to create a different climate in our country, one where we are 'not as divided as our politics suggest'. I actually think that he is the more experienced candidate in terms of the things that I value. His work as a community organizer is the kind of work (like mine) that is undervalued in this society. Hillary's experience has ingratiated her to the power players, replete with backroom deals and implied promises. That's not the kind of experience that changes anything, all she can promise is more of the same with a few more of the scraps from her dinner table doled out to the common man. That may be harsh but it's how I see it. If she were a little less concerned about her own prosperity, I would have imagined that she would have used (not loaned) more of her own fortune in this campaign. Mitt Romney did. If she believes in herself so strongly, why not put her money where her mouth is, she's got plenty of it.

Contrast that with Obama's campaign, financed in no small part by US, the little guys, the common folk. That's an extraordinarily powerful and uncommon phenomenon, one that I always fantasized about seeing happen but never really thought that I would. In the words of the old '60s song, truly, "There's somethin' happenin' here."

Like you I feel, why not just take that chance? Roll the dice and see if we might not just win one? Maybe we'll be disappointed in the results, maybe we'll be voting against him in four years. My head tells me a lot of things and I listen. My heart tells me other things...and I listen. I try to find a balance between the two, when my head and my heart say different things. In this case I say, "Roll the dice." From where I sit, I can't see that we have too much to lose.

I say that in part because I so strongly feel that there is no way in hell that Hillary Clinton can win a general election. I honestly believe that, if she is the Democratic candidate, the GOP will be overjoyed and the DNC will have handed the presidency over to the Republicans for another 4-8 years. I don't know if this country can take another 4-8 years of the GOP. In my view, Obama is not only the greatly preferred Democratic candidate, but also the only viable candidate in a general election.

So...moving on to the general election.

I don't want it to sound like my words are cavalier when I discuss the potential of assassination; I don't know how to fully express how much I understand the grave risk that Obama and his family are taking with his candidacy. Nor can I find words to express both my admiration that his family is willing to take that risk, nor my GRATITUDE for their bravery. For this kind of 'first', that risk is heavy and only a fool would deny it.

But the way I see it, there is no way to mitigate that risk for the first black president. So...should we avoid a black president in fear of assassination? I don't think so. I think that risk is unavoidable for the first black president. From a merely philosophical view, I say, we can't let fear hold us back. From a more personal, humanitarian view, I say, that is not our choice to make. That's the Obama family's decision and they have already made their choice. It's up to us to support them in their choice, IMO.

Yes, it has only been 40 years since the great accomplishments of the civil rights era. You are absolutely right. Yes some of those people are still alive...BUT...the world has been in an unprecedented cycle of change over the past 40 years. Can you imagine what a person who died in 1962 might think if the could magically appear in the world today? The Internet alone has wrought unbelievable changes. We see gay characters in tv shows without (most of us) blinking an eye. Interracial marriage is so much more common than it used to be and you can actually expect to live if you marry outside of your race. At one time that was a death defying feat.

The incredible energy behind the Obama campaign is testimony of how much change has occurred in those 40 years. I dare to say that even TEN years ago this campaign and it's extraordinary success would have been unthinkable. I think we are changing. Change is always too slow, especially if you are in one of the groups who experiences oppression. But change is inevitable. Those who would stand against Obama's candidacy just because of the change it represents are doomed by time, not unlike the dinosaurs, IMO. There is no stopping this change.

If you look at our youngest adults, the 'echo boomers', you will find that they (for the most part) are unaffected by the racism that preceded them. They support gay marriage by an enormous margin. They indicate to us that our social mores and norms are in a tremendous cycle of change and that that change will continue it's evolution beyond our lifetimes. They give me hope. : )

The general election may be a great culture clash; the religious fundamentalists and their ilk clashing with the ideals and beliefs of the echo boomers and the more liberal segments of our society. This clash is inevitable and HAS to happen sooner or later. In my view, this is later, not sooner. This has been a long time coming.

I really do believe that there are more of 'us' than of 'them', in terms of the religious fundamentalists who have, in my view, been manipulated by the powers that be to put them and keep them in power. In 2004, I watched the gay marriage issue bring them out in droves and wondered, what kind of issue would bring the NORMAL people out in droves? What energizes OUR base? I thought this was a critical question but I could not find an answer to it.

This election season, I think Obama provides that answer. Only instead of it being an issue that we all turn out to vote AGAINST, to my enormous surprise and pleasure, it's a concept that we are turning out to vote FOR! That concept is too nuanced and complex to turn into a sound bite, the words 'change' and 'hope' have had to do, but that are woefully inadequate. It's all about the possibility of a different future and that possibility has a symbol in Barack Obama.

As you so astutely noted, Obama is already serving as a catalyst for change now, in the primaries. I don't think that energy has even begun to approach critical mass. I think there is much more about to happen, and it's an unbelievably exciting time to be an American.

Who'd have thunk it after Bush was reelected...that we'd end up in this place where we find ourselves today? What's happening now is to me, an incredibly beautiful thing.

Like I said, I am intuitive. Here's what I'm 'intuiting'; Obama is going to win this election. Not just the nomination, but the election. The GOP attack machine will do its thing, and some people will be motivated by it but most will be disgusted with it and sick of it and vote against the Rovian B.S. that has manipulated so many people for so long. This is foretold in Clinton's imminent defeat, IMO.

In conclusion, I don't think you are 'wrong' anywhere. I think you're right on target with your observations, thoughts and feelings. I think your voice speaks for millions of Americans who are thinking the same kinds of thoughts and feeling those same feelings, the stirrings of hope.

Only one thing that you wrote would I disagree with, and that is your description of yourself as having become a cynic. I don't see you as cynical at all. I see you as being realistic. HUGE difference. Over the past 8 years, apathy and all of the feelings that accompany it have been realistic. But suddenly we are at a different place in the world and maybe these horrible 8 years are what it took to get us to this place where we collectively wake up and realize that we don't care about race or gender or anything like that, we care about our kids' FUTURES and they're being sold down the river unless we stand up now and do something about it.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

On to Texas

I got my wish.

Obama's election will matter in Texas. West Texas will go to Hillary, Dallas probably doesn't have a Democratic primary, and Southeast Texas will go for Obama. So I guess Texas will split 50-50 like everywhere else.