Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Change I Can Believe In. Finally.

Okay, so this not national news - it's personal news - but since it is election related, I will share it with this forum.

This morning, I arose early to a stormy day here in Boise. After doing my morning chores on the organic farm, I decided to get a workout in at the local high school gym. On the television in the background was Senator Obama's speech from yesterday in Pittsburgh. It was closed captioned (as the GNR was blasting for the high school kids getting pumped for Friday night's homecoming football game) so I could watch and listen to my Ipod at the same time.

And, early this morning, it happened. A switch was flipped. I started to believe.

Pat Bateman is a liberal, but he is not someone who often believes in people. Ideas are dandy, and I'll vote generally for the person who supports as many of my ideas as possible. Usually that's a Democrat, but not always. But mostly. Still, generally I cast a vote for that person but keep a skeptical eye. After all, it is politics. I vote ideas and rarely candidates. The more invested you become in a person rather than an idea, the more you are let down when you learn that person whom you have placed on a pedestal has feet of clay.

That is why it's been almost staggering to watch, largely from the sidelines, the mania that has followed Senator Obama's campaign. It has been like a old time Southern church revival service. People swoon over him. People believe in him like a messiah come to deliver us. And that part I couldn't figure out, because that's simply not how I am generally constructed as a person. Ideas, flawless; people, generally not. I believe in ideas. Rarely in people.

I have supported Senator Obama from the moment he became the presumptive Democratic nominee. I liked his gravitas. I liked most of his ideas. I especially liked that it looked like he could win. But until this morning, I didn't "believe."

But this morning, for some reason, my Ipod kept coming back to inspirational tunes and I kept turning back to the gym television to watch him. I read his words (I had already seen the speech, but reading the words and seeing his poise again, maybe everything just clicked). And, suddenly, despite the lingering clouds and rain outside - both literally and metaphorically - my disposition started to get sunnier. What was this thing happening to my face? Was this a... smile?

I'm a cynic at heart and a skeptic by nature. Life will teach you this lesson if your eyes are remotely open. But suddenly, as if my Ipod was programmed to dovetail with his speech, "Going the Distance" from the original Rocky came on as he reached a crescendo. And, in that moment, it happened. I could feel the change. I became a believer. I went from an ideological supporter (and intense hater of what the GOP has become) to someone emotionally invested in THIS person, not just the defeat of the policies of the last eight years.

And suddenly, as if I suddenly understood something I already knew factually, it also became crystal clear why John McCain cannot, and will not, win this election. Because his supporters don't believe. The base of the Republican party turned out to support George Bush, believing it a "moral imperative" to do so. But even with You Betcha! on the ticket, they still just can't rally that same hysteria this time around.

But Obama's supporters can. There is a religious fervor to their support that is simply indefatigable. No matter what is thrown at him, both he and they brush it off. He has deflected any slings and whatever arrows the GOP has mustered and come through it. As the Democrats found out in 2004, you cannot genetically engineer enthusiasm. The Republicans are now learning this lesson when their own strategy of using enthusiasm and energy as a voting tool is turned against them.

The amazing thing about this is that it is the "elitist Ivory tower" set that is dancing in the aisles for Obama. The Godless sodomites. The shiftless union laborers. The abortionists. Everyone, essentially, who mocks Conservatives, especially Evangelicals, for "faith based" voting. It is these folks who now are voting their hearts and see this election as a "calling" - perhaps not from God, but certainly from something collectively bigger than any of us individually.

Well, I was on the outside looking in until this morning. A supporter, without question. But not invested. Count this Elitist as having the ice melted on his cold, black heart. I'm invested now. Change is coming... and I finally, truly, believe it.


Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Having the benefit of being on this planet for 50+ years, the frame of political reference for the Obama campaign always goes back to Bobby Kennedy in 1968, but even that isn't accurate. Obama's quest for the presidency has become more than a campiagn, but a movement, and it dwarfs RFK's run in its scope and fervor. And of course, RFK's run ended in tragedy.

We're about to see history- the first African-American will be elected to the presidency. To make an analogy to baseball history, in the 1940's Branch Rickey wanted to intergrate MLB by bringing an African-American player to his Brooklyn Dodgers. But he couldn't be just any good player- he had to be someone with the courage not to retaliate to the taunts and ugliness that would be thrown his way. That man was Jackie Robinson.

Barack Obama (who, ironically, married someone named Robinson) is cut from that same cloth. When lies, venom, and hate were spun in his direction he answered them without malice- he challenged without anger or meaness. His campaign is one of inclusion, not of excluding those who are not "real Americans". He will become the president of ALL Americans.

What's happening at this juncture of history is something that reinforces to me that, despite its flaws, this is a wonderful country. And its people have indeed elected to go for "change they can believe in".

Pat Bateman said...

Well said, Hugh. And Jackie is a great comparison. It took a special mix of equal parts talent and character then. Still does. He's the right person at the right time.

Do me a favor, Senator Obama - don't tank once you get there. If Jackie Robinson had hit .220, it wouldn't have been quite so memorable.

Warm Apple Pie said...

They have gyms in Boise?

Warm Apple Pie said...

I agree Hugh Jee, but did I miss something? Did we all vote yet? The Republicans may feel like Ebenezer Scrooge on Xmas morning? I haven't missed it!!!! It's still here!!!

Counting chickens, huh. The Democrats would have broken out the champagne after the 6th inning in last night's rain-postponed disaster.