Coming out for Obama
History in the making
The primary party I co-hosted last night was fantastic.
Although my friend and I didn't organize it in support of a specific candidate, the 200+ guest who attended turned out to be staunch Obama supporters. I made a beautiful Obama ‘08 cake (above), a man brought fresh donuts because they're "O-shaped and delicious", followed by the cocktail party my company provided, and most everyone sported both their trilingual "I Voted!" stickers and something almost forgotten over the past seven years: an exciting, infectious, heady sense of hope.
The Bush years have been disillusioning, disastrous for civil rights and international diplomacy, and have often made me ashamed at the subversion of American ideals.
Obama heralds the coming of a different America, one in which multiple languages, identities, and ethnicities are the norm, and in which those of us under 35 are thinking in new ways about race and gender.
There is a certain quality in Barack that exists in me and many others I know - a "double vision" that allows us to be deeply rooted in our American identities while still maintaining our curiosity, empathy and desire for understanding another's condition. As Fareed Zakaria said in support of Obama:
I've never thought of my identity as any kind of qualification. I've never written an article that contains the phrase "As an Indian-American ..." or "As a person of color ..."
But when I think about what is truly distinctive about the way I look at the world, about the advantage that I may have over others in understanding foreign affairs, it is that I know what it means not to be an American. I know intimately the attraction, the repulsion, the hopes, the disappointments that the other 95 percent of humanity feels when thinking about this country. I know it because for a good part of my life, I wasn't an American. I was the outsider, growing up 8,000 miles away from the centers of power, being shaped by forces over which my country had no control.
No other political campaign has elicited so many blog entries, e-mails and phone calls from my friends, family and other people I respect (of all different races, ethnicities, and religions) asking me to join them in supporting Obama.
Beyond the above reasons, some of the policy issues that made me decide to support him were articulated by Barack himself after his win in Iowa:
When I am this party's nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq; or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran; or that I supported Bush-Cheney policies of not talking to leaders that we don't like.
And he will not be able to say that I wavered on something as fundamental as whether or not it is okay for America to torture - because it is never OK...
I will end the war in Iraq... I will close Guantanamo. I will restore habeas corpus. I will finish the fight against Al Qaeda.
And I will lead the world to combat the common threats of the 21st century: nuclear weapons and terrorism; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.
And I will send once more a message to those yearning faces beyond our shores that says, ‘You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now.'
[A more detailed list of his stances can be found, here, differences from Clinton here, and a more Obama info here.]
Obama's speech last night struck me with its lyrical, inspiring cadences so I'm not surprised his supporters set one of his speeches to music, below. As the LA Times said:
In the language of metaphor, Clinton is an essay, solid and reasoned; Obama is a poem, lyric and filled with possibility. Clinton would be a valuable and competent executive, but Obama matches her in substance and adds something that the nation has been missing far too long - a sense of aspiration.
As a friend wrote to me, "In addition to his tremendous leadership, vision, and character, Obama is the first candidate in many years who has inspired me to believe that I not only have the capacity, but also the responsibility, to impact the political process. Please vote - it not only matters, but actually could change the country."
Yes, We Can: