Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I had a conversation the other day with an acquaintance on the subject of the presidential campaign. It would be just as incorrect to call him a conservative as it would be to call me a liberal. He's sort of a Republican nut-job and I'm sort of an Independent wacko. Whatever you want to call the pole where he is, I'm on the opposite end.

We more or less agree on only one thing. That is: when we agree about something, we are absolutely right. One thing we agree on is that environmental conservation is of paramount importance to the future of our country (and our planet).

I have avoided talking to him about the presidential campaign because I just didn't want to listen to all that Republican BS. Unfortunately, he cornered me the other day, and started in on how terrified he is about the prospect of an Obama presidency. I tried to get away from the conversation but I could not make my escape fast enough.

He knows that in 2004, I intended to vote for Senator McCain if he had won the Republican nomination. In 2004, I wanted America to elect a Vietnam veteran to the presidency. I liked McCain's independence and cantankerousness while I am not enamored of traditional liberals like Kerry. McCain didn't make the cut, so I voted for Kerry. At the time, I just could not imagine that America would re-elect the Incumbent. I have to admit I still have trouble believing the results of that election.

In any case, my friend knows that I have not supported McCain this time, and he doesn't especially like it, because he goes positively mouth-foaming crazy over the prospect of an Obama presidency. He keeps harking on the "inexperience" issue.

I'm not buying that as the real reason he, and so many like him, are so worked up. My response to the question of Senator Obama's "inexperience" is to remind people of the old saw about "the Ark was built by amateurs and the Titanic was built by professionals." Abraham Lincoln didn't have a lot of political experience and certainly no administrative experience when he became president. George Bush had considerable direct administrative experience. DUH! Direct political experience is not the only qualification to consider. Inspiration and being the person with the Call when the Need arises have to figure into the equation.

I think the reason that so many Conservatives are so opposed to an Obama presidency is because his very presence in the White House (a person of color whose background is not just multi-ethnic, but pan-national and crosses religious lines as well) will signal that the days of the Rich-White-Guys-In-Charge are over. Whatever a President Obama may say or do will not matter so much as what a President Obama sitting in the Oval Office represents to both the American people and to America's relationships with its neighbors. That alone is enough to at least make me consider voting for him. It makes the "Conservatives" go positively apoplectic.

I am still only considering voting for Obama. I was on board for a while and more or less resigned to voting for him, and then he did a couple of things that gave me pause. First of all, his trip to Europe was totally inappropriate. Campaigning abroad like that was just wrong. If he gets elected, he'll have plenty of time to charm the rest of the world. But, now is not the time for that. Bush and his cronies may be a bunch of knuckleheads (with just enough truly evil smart guys in the mix to make it really scary) but America elected him and, for now, he should be the Face of America to the world (God have mercy on us all).

The other thing that would be a total non-starter for me is Obama's flirtation with supporting an expansion of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. I absolutely will not vote for a candidate who would even consider such a thing. Actually, I don't want to vote for a candidate who supports increased oil production or drilling, period. I want our next president to be 100% wholehearted in his passion for throwing all of America's resources into developing sustainable sources of energy. I want him to end the war, and use the money we save to lead America forward into a united movement to protect our environment.

What we need is a Leader who can inspire Americans to be better than we have been, to do more than we have been doing, to try harder than we have been trying, and to be willing to make sacrifices and join the rest of humanity in one final last ditch effort to bring our planet back from the edge of disaster. That will not be brought about by statutes or policies or government initiatives. The next president must inspire "We The People" to take individual initiative: to open our hearts, unlock our minds and to change our behavior. Our next president need not be a policy wonk, like Senator Clinton (we need those folk in the Senate and the House of Representatives).

Our next president needs to be an inspiring speaker and, if he is not a broad and deep thinker on his own, he needs to surround himself with such thinkers. He needs to have a Vision (Yes, Mr. President Bush the First, it's still about that "vision thing") and he needs to not only be able to communicate it clearly, but he needs to be able inspire people to act on it.

Senator Obama's got the rhetorical skills. He's got the Look. He's got that rock star charisma that can draw crowds and get them fired up.

What he needs a good strong, consistent Message, and the perseverance and backbone to bring that Message to "We The People" every single time he opens his mouth, in order to keep us on track and on task.

Boomers being singularly lacking in perseverance and politicians being generally lacking in backbone, I am not really optimistic that he will be able to pull it off. Senator Obama has been hanging around with too many politicians. I am afraid he will run off the rails if he continues down that road.

He needs to get inspired in order to inspire others. He needs a vision of America's role in the building of our future and he needs it quickly. Instead of all those handlers, pollsters and political advisers, he needs to start hanging around with philosophers and economists and environmentalists ... ("Um, hello, Tipper, is Al at home??")

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