about whom I'm voting for this election. Whenever my teenagers ask me whom I'm voting for, I always reply, "I'm not sure yet. But I know whom I'm not voting for."
This confuses the poo out of many of them. They say things like, "But there's only two people running. You have to vote for one of them, don't you?" Do they say such things because they're callow youth? No. They say such things because they're Americans.
I don't want to go into a history lesson of the two-party system, but take any constitutional history class, and you'll see that our current Democrat/Republican gridlock is not what the founding fathers intended. It hasn't served us well. Feel free to disagree with me, but consider the frustration level you normally have when you think about the federal government. Still think things are perfect?
At any rate, I've never voted for either a Democrat or a Republican for president. I'm a registered Green Party member, and proud of it. I'm also not going to take the time to stump for the cause, except to say that whenever like-minded people (esp. students) ask what the Green Party's stances are, and I inform them, they're nearly always in complete agreement.
I voted for Nader in '96 and '00 (yeah, I was one of those- got a problem with that?), and David Cobb in '04 (Nader either left/was booted from the party). I still firmly believe that those men would've been far better choices than either of the two major party candidates.
This year, Cynthia McKinney, a woman I respect, is running on the Green Party ticket. Again, I find myself agreeing with her more on the issues than either Barack Obama or John McCain.
But I'm not gonna vote for her. I'm rollin' with Barack.
It's taken me a long time to come to this decision. There are stances of Obama's I flat-out disagree with, like his objection to gay marriage and his approval of building a wall along the border. Then there's also my belief that the two major parties are by their very natures indebted and beholden to big money interests. I also think it's vital to vote third party. We know we won't win on a national level, but third parties at least tell the big guys that there are people who are being left out of their ideology and can sometimes influence policy. More importantly, you don't just become part of the machine.
So wherefore Obama?
Partly it's because I do agree with him on lots of issues. He was the only Democrat who had a shot at the nomination who was vocally against the war in Iraq before the invasion. He didn't vote with the President and then lamely try to explain it away later when it became unpopular like Hilary and his own VP choice, Biden. I like that he's for taxing the rich to help pay for the gigantic deficit Captain Shit-for-Brains ran up, and giving tax breaks to everyone else. I like that he seems to understand that drilling for more oil is like taking out another mortgage on the home that's being foreclosed on (which is why Americans love it- many of them are stupid).
It's also partly because I admire the man's character, intelligence, and background. He's a lot like Jackie Robinson back in the 50's. He had to be the perfect black man to integrate the Major Leagues: even-tempered, well-spoken, dignified, and extremely good at what he did. That's Obama. He's brilliant, never rattled, articulate, and a master politician. Whatever happens on his watch if he is elected, at least we'll have the comfort of knowing that we have someone of keen intellect making the calls, not Captain Shit-for-Brains.
Just as importantly, the sign an Obama presidency would send to the rest of the world would be significant. I know many Americans don't care what other countries think of us, that it doesn't matter. You heard it here first: those people are fucktards. Captain Shit-for-Brains spent all the credit and goodwill that we earned after 9/11 and then some. The rest of the world thinks we're uptight, racist, warmongering religious zealots. And they'll still be right about lots of us. But at least we can show the world that we're capable of change. That we're willing to try new things. That we repudiate the despicable regime of Captain Shit-for-Brains.
But mostly it comes down to this: I'm a student of history. I was a U.S. history major in college. Anybody with half a brain knows that racism has played a large role in this country's past, but most people seem to think that's what it is: our past. "What are they still complaining about?" they ask. Please. You don't have legal discrimination in a republic for the first 200 years of its history that all gets washed away by the next generation. Sure, it's getting better, but we're not there yet. Go to a McCain/Palin rally if you don't believe me.
I truly believe that this is going to be a transformative election. As naive as it sounds, I have something I'd lost for the past eight years: hope. I want this to be an election where I remember years later that I participated in something that changed my country and the world for the better.
Noted labor activist Delores Huerta once said, "Walk the street with us into history. Get off the sidewalk."
I'm walkin' with you, Barack. Don't let me down.