Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Why I Changed My Mind
The bumper of my car sports a John Edwards sticker. I haven't been able to bring myself to peel it off, because I had so looked forward to voting for Sen Edwards for president.
Until he bowed out of the race, I was fond of saying that I couldn't believe that there was a woman running for president, a woman I admire, with a real chance of winning, and I was supporting the white guy. But I really believed that Edwards was best for the country, and he was my guy.
Since he bowed out, I've been supporting Senator Clinton. I didn't trust Senator Obama's youth, his shorter time in government, but mostly I didn't trust all that talk about "change." It seemed to me that in every other election, we've got someone talking about "change" and then what we get, if we elect that person, is a mess of some kind. I voted for Bill Clinton because he represented change but what we got was eight years of the Arkansas mafia gunning for him, with the Republicans gleefully cheering them on. I remember people voting for Jimmy Carter, because he represented a change, and the Carter years were a wreck, reaping the various whirlwinds sown years before.
So I was skeptical about "change." I felt like I was too smart to fall for that again, and I felt rather sad for the young people I saw who were all excited about it. Here we go again, I thought, and wished they'd support Senator Clinton. Also, I hated the way the press and the public has accepted the misogyny directed at her; it seemed to me that it had become acceptable to be publicly misogynist, when it was at least not acceptable to be publicly racist. I identified with Clinton; she grew on me.
Then today I read Senator Obama's remarkable speech on race. I heard on NPR that this wasn't the product of a speechwriter, either: he wrote it himself. It is a risky, gutsy, honest, sophisticated speech (how's that for an interesting string of adjectives?) I would love to see this country engage honestly with the issue of race. I would love to see us all admit that we're suspicious of each other, but that we want our lives to be better than they are. I would love to see the lively discussion that Obama calls for; I would love to participate in it. I cannot imagine a better antidote to the Bush Presidencies Part Deux and their damage to our international standing than this intelligent, honest man with the very un-WASPy name.
I'm still rather skeptical about "change" as the theme for a campaign, but that's because I'm cranky and jaded and my move into political adulthood coincided with Watergate, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. But I am enthusiastic about voting for a wise and well-educated person of courage, and that's what I see in Barack Obama.
I don't know how much "change" he can really pull off. But I'd love for him to have the chance to try.