I first registered to vote four years ago, 11 years after I was eligible. Until that point, I hadn't cared much about politics. I thought politics was booooring. But then I had this wild idea to go to law school and went back to college to get my bachelor's degree in political science. I wasn't sure how I'd like majoring in political science, but I needed a bachelor's degree for law school and was told political science was the way to go. A funny thing happened, though. I started to like politics. I realized it was interesting. And more than that, it was important. I couldn't believe I had gone all this time just not caring. That was when I registered to vote.
I never went to law school, because I realized that wasn't my passion. Instead, after I graduated with my bachelor's in political science, I went back to get my master's in journalism. And that is how I got here, to this blog. I gathered my political science background wouldn't be wasted in journalism, and I was right. It has served me well over the years, at least in understanding certain things.
So why all this background? Because this is the first year that I was actually excited to vote. That I saw other people excited to vote. Willing to wait in line hours to do so. Before, it was a duty, a duty that I was proud to have once I realized how important it was, but it was never exciting. While I always supported the candidates I voted for, I was never terribly attached to them. However, Sen. Barack Obama is someone I am thrilled to support.
I'm not going to tell you how I like his tax or healthcare plans. Or how I think he has the right idea with regard to our foreign policy. Because if you support Obama, you probably feel the same way. And if you don't (Howie!), you won't care. What I like about Obama -- no, what gives me great hope -- is what I've seen over the past few months. Not the negative ads. Not the cries of terrorist or false stories that Obama was born in Kenya. Certainly not the direct or indirect racism. What has given me hope is that, despite those things, people support Obama. I see people with Obama buttons and bumper stickers, signs on the lawns. I see college-age kids with Obama shirts, volunteering for the campaign. We've come to accept that racism is a part of the U.S. I know that it may always be, sadly. But here are examples of people who are supporting a candidate, regardless of race, religion, etc. The equality we have always hoped for is happening right here. I grew up with racist relatives, and it has always disgusted me that people could talk that way, as if they are better than someone else because of race. I know of relatives that will not be voting for Obama because of his color. They don't care what he stands for, probably don't even know anything about his plans. They just won't vote for a black guy. What gives me hope is that people like THAT haven't stopped people like Obama, or his supporters.
Republicans will say it's media bias that has led to this phenomenon. That the media has made Obama into some celebrity or God, or that his supporters have done so. But you can't MAKE someone into something he isn't. People can be naive, can even be tricked sometimes, but most of us know when a turd is a turd (see Bush, George W.). Some people missed the boat on President Bush the second time around, but I think after these past eight years, we can spot the turd. If Obama was just some second-rate political hack who had tricked the country into supporting him, Americans would have realized it by now. We've had 18 months to watch him, waiting for some indication that he wasn't fit for the presidency. Instead, we've seen Sen. John McCain flounder and look like the candidate who isn't ready for the presidency. Seen him look like the turd.
What gives me hope is not only what I believe Obama can do for our country in areas where we usually expect a president to lead, like the economy, foreign policy, etc., but also what Obama can do for us as Americans. Prove to us that race really doesn't matter. Prove to us that it doesn't matter if you have a funny name, or that your father was Kenyan. Prove to us that we were all created equal, and if we all try hard enough, there is no telling where we can end up. Prove to us that we can come together and say, "We're not a white America. We're not a black America. We're the United States of America."