Monday, November 03, 2008

History in the Making

I'm very jealous of all of you Americans out there tonight.


You get to make history tomorrow.

Today, I read on that regardless who wins the Presidential election tomorrow, history will be made. Either a huge upset by John McCain, the likes of which have never really been seen, or the first Black President. Obviously, I have my opinion, which is that Barack Obama should be the winner. I've made no secret of this, and even here in Canada have had some pretty heated conversations about an election that we have absolutely nothing to do with.

Yet we're all captivated.

And we all have an opinion: "Obama isn't trustworthy." "He's a liar". "He's not experienced enough". "He hangs out with some pretty scary people." (It's amazing to hear people I know say things like that.) The other side is saying "Obama is amazing." "I haven't seen a leader like him since Kennedy." "He's intelligent and has what they need to really change things for the better."

Most people only know what they see on TV or read online, right? Since political TV ads force their way across the border into Canuck living rooms from St. John to Victoria while we watch NBC or other stations, we have all seen more than our share of commercials praising or bashing the Presidential candidate(s).

And we all agree that what happens in the USA will have a significant impact on Canada.

Regardless of what it means here, I can only imagine what the millions of Americans are feeling as they approach this Election Day. The pride you see on people's faces as they vote is foreign to me. Here, we vote as a duty. I don't know anybody who is excited to vote. Not one person acted like it was much of a big deal at all. Most of us said it was choosing a lesser evil.

And then you watch a rally with 20,000 people cheering and smiling and singing as one man stands with a microphone, talking about the future he wants for his country. You hear the journalists' comments about the intensity and furor surrounding his campaign. You see people inspired enough to send $5 or $10 a couple of times a month in support of a politician because they know every dollar will count and they want their voices heard.

Say what you will about spending millions in TV advertising or whatever else. There is a reason that Barack Obama has built such a strong base of support. There is a reason he's earned so much money. There is a reason he can fill football arenas with cheering people.

A few days after the Democratic convention ended, I found a video on Obama's YouTube site showing things that happened behind the scenes. What struck me most about the video was a scene of Obama watching his wife give her speech in front of thousands of people. He was sitting in somebody's living room, spellbound and staring. As she spoke, she mentioned that he was the same man she'd fallen in love with all of those years ago - a poignant moment made even more so when the camera focused in on his hands. Suddenly this politician became just a guy to me - turning his wedding ring around and around as he watched his wife on TV - far away. It looked like all he wanted to do was be with her.

Later in the video, Michelle Obama is sitting in the screaming audience, looking around in a daze as people chant her husband's name. Awestruck, she mouths "whoa" before looking at him up on the stage.

It's hard to put yourself in their places. To try and understand what it would feel like to watch the guy you married inspire millions of people to vote him as their leader. To be the dad who takes his kids out for Halloween, but can't be alone with them because there are cameras following his every move.

There have been a few flashes of the Normal Guy that lives in John McCain too, albeit few and far between... When he took the microphone away from a woman at one of his rallies to correct her statement about Obama being "an Arab", then going on to call him a 'good, humble man' and further saying he would be a good President - you could see the person under the rhetoric. The third time I saw that clip (it was on the news a lot) I noticed McCain's eyes - he almost looked afraid of what was happening.

The problem is, when you spend time and money spreading messages like "palling around with terrorists" or "dangerously unprepared" about somebody, eventually a group of people are going to repeat those messages. Yes, you might win their votes, but you've also created a Frankenstein. People who hate Obama really hate him. They're scared and furious. This is somebody's fault, and sadly the blame lies mainly with McCain and his campaign. Launching negative TV ads and "robo-calls" is such a natural part of politics that most people just roll their eyes and change the channel. This is because usually it's some kind of policy attack, like "my opponent will raise your taxes!" or "he'll cut military spending!" You do not usually hear things like "terrorist". After that can of worms was opened, Mr. McCain and his running mate had a choice: tell people the same thing McCain said to that lady - that Obama is a good guy too, but he has policies and plans that we don't like or agree with, or let them yell and get more and more pissed off.

Anybody following this election knows which direction they went.

The other say, Sen. Obama provided the best example of dealing with a raucous crowd. Upon mentioning his opponent's name, everybody started loudly booing. Instead of smiling and inciting them to more noisy booing / cheering, Obama raised his arm and said "You don't have to boo, just VOTE."

And here we have the classy way of dealing with things.

I didn't want to care this much about this election, but if the results end in anything other than a landslide for Obama, I will genuinely be concerned about the people who live south of us. Again, he is NOT perfect and he won't be a perfect leader. But his knowledge, skills, compassion, intensity, and pure class hold him waaay above his opponent. Everybody knows McCain's campaign has been condoning lies and smears about Obama. Not his politics either. His PERSON. How any intelligent person can watch such a thing and not only swallow this ridiculous rhetoric, but agree with it is beyond me. Yes, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but this time, it seems like Obama is the obvious choice.

You might have a young President who will make mistakes from time to time, as he has inherited a country with lots of potholes and problems, but I don't think anybody can disagree with the fact that Barack Obama wants what is best for his country and that he'll work with anybody necessary to change things for the better. And no, I don't mean terrorists. John McCain might also want what is best, but I honestly believe he has gone down a very wrong and dangerous path to get there. He has hurt people instead of helped them, and scared people instead of inspired them. He might be a war hero, but his actions this past year have been anything but heroic.

And so, on the eve of Election Day, I wish I could vote. Since I can't, I pray that every person who is able, gets out to do so tomorrow.

Good luck.


  • At 3:01 PM, Blogger David Sullivan said…

    Wow, you know more about these guys than most of the idiots and sheep that live down here. We could use more citizens like you in the states.

  • At 5:10 PM, Blogger Melinda said…

    Thanks very much David! I hope things go well today...


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