Thursday, October 30, 2008

"This is not a liberal America. This is not a conservative America. This is the United States of America."

If you didn't see Sen. Barack Obama's 30-minute message last night, you missed out. I think it cut through the negative attacks of the past few weeks and allowed Obama to talk to American voters about his plans for the future of the U.S. But the message wasn't just about Obama. Real families with real problems were highlighted in the video. I already voted for Obama, but even so, watching that resonated with me because I identified with those families' issues. Both my grandfathers had to work after retirement because their Social Security checks weren't enough. They both worked right up until they died, never getting a moment for themselves. My grandmother, after my grandfather died, had to go back to work, first at a convenience store and then at a JCPenney. Then she developed Alzheimer's and started forgetting to pay her bills. Pretty soon she was in debt. The last years of her life were spent living with my aunt in Colorado and then in a nursing home. My parents are both "working people." My dad is in a union and has two bad knees and a bad back. But he gets up every day at the crack of dawn to go to work as a pipefitter, which isn't a cushy job. My mom works at a gas station as a cashier. My dad just turned 59, and my mom will be 59 in a couple months. It's not easy for either of them, and at times, when my dad didn't have work, they've struggled.

So I watched that video and understood where those families were coming from. And I think a lot of middle class, working people around the country could too. Just a few months ago, my dad was saying Obama is a Muslim and sounding like he couldn't stand the thought of Obama for president. Last night, he watched that 30-minute message and said, "That's right" a few times. He agreed with Obama. I think that, out of everything, touched me. My dad is stubborn in his thinking, and he rarely ever admits he's wrong, but here he was now agreeing with the very person he was against a few short months ago.

I said in another post that I believe that Obama will be the president who can bring us together. Of course, I know that doesn't mean everyone. There will be stubborn Republicans who refuse to accept an Obama presidency, or people who, regardless of party, are too racist to look past skin color. That can't be helped. There will always be doubters and cynics and hypocrites. But I have more faith in Obama than I have had in any other candidate. Because he's already brought people together. People from all walks of life are behind Obama. People who I never would have thought would put aside race to vote for a black man are behind Obama. That shows me what Obama has the power to accomplish. I'm an American, and I'm glad to be one. But I'm not glad to see our standing in the world diminished because of poor leadership. I'm not glad to see a polarized country -- lines drawn between liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, Christian and well, everyone else. No one, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or even political party, has the right to look down on anyone else. And we don't need a president who thinks that way either. The most powerful statement in the 30-minute message for me was when, during Obama's 2004 convention speech, he said, "This is not a liberal America. This is not a conservative America. This is the United States of America." Unfortunately, Republicans see America as their way or the highway. You're for tax cuts for the rich, or you're a socialist. You're for war and against diplomacy, or you're naive on foreign policy. You're against abortion, or you're a baby killer. You're with us, or you're against us. That's not the leadership we need. Republicans love America. I know they do. I just don't think they have the right vision for America. Maybe after this election, if the poll predictions are true and Obama wins, they'll see where they went wrong.

If you haven't seen Obama's 30-minute message, here it is (in four parts):

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