So I've been torn for a while over the plethora (you like that word?!?!) of choices we of the Democratic persuasion have where our presidential candidates are concerned.
Don't tell anyone, but, SOMETIMES, I miss Bill Clinton. I miss the prosperity in which nearly everyone shared during his administration. I miss the optimism of that time. I miss not feeling like an enemy of my government simply because I don't want to give up my rights.
What I don't miss is the nearly daily stories of Monicagate & the he-says-she-says circus that the republicans insisted on showcasing during his administration. Sure, Bill Clinton was wrong for using the highest office in the land to further his sexual indiscretions, but just as wrong was the elephant party's insistence on using every lever of power at their disposal to focus government's attention on one man's prurient desires instead of making life better for the people there were sent to represent. The republican party's lust to get Bill, a man they saw as an illegitimate & undeserving occupant of the White House, was as blatant & obvious as Bill's lust to get...whatever it is he was trying to get.
I don't mean to air already-over-aired dirty laundry, but I wanted to make a point about Hillary. I would wager that I agree with 98.6% or more of Hillary's stances. She is a good woman (in my humble opinion) with a good heart & a desire to fix so much that Bill's successor has destroyed & spoiled for the rest of us. Her governmental experience & public life as First Lady have made her more-than-able to, as she claims in her ads, to hit the ground running. I have no doubt of that. I won't vote for her in the Florida primary not because I don't trust her or because she holds political points of view with which I vehemently disagree. I won't vote for her because I am ready for something new. Like so many other Americans, I want (I need) a fresh start & a fresh face. Hillary has a place in the public discourse & she has so much to contribute to bringing honor back to our country, but, on January 29th, I want to send a message to my party that we need a break with the past & that we have to look forward to a future that gives us all hope that the 7+ year long Bushmare is over. Hillary--as the head of our ticket--doesn't seem to represent that for me...at least not now.
Of the remaining candidates, I am most fired-up about Barack Obama & John Edwards. They are two truly fresh faces that give me a reason to stand up & cheer. They remind me why I've been a Democrat ever since I could vote. They are not perfect people, to be sure, and they disagree with me on civil marriage equality (but, then again, so do most of the other Dems in the race), but they also seem to me to be men who are willing to listen & open to reason. They both talk about the innate unfairness & inequality of the status quo. They both seem to have no interest in business as usual. Not many people I know do.
John Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, to me, is simply a marvel! She refuses to allow her illness to keep her from saving the country she loves so much by helping the man she loves so much to get his message out. She knows that it's not really about her...or about John...but about her children & everyone else's children. She & John seek to give voice to those who either cannot speak for themselves or who are never heard at all in a town where only money talks. They are also good, decent people who make me proud of my party...something that has been a rarity for me for a while.
Then there's Barack. Barack Obama is about a year older than me. WOW! That's just amazing to me! Maybe it's just me, but when you think of the junior senator from Illinois, you can't help but think of potential! Barack is not gay, of course, but with his exposure to so many different kinds of people (his father was from Kenya, his mother from Kansas, and they met at the University of Hawaii & Barack was raised for some time in Indonesia), I truly think he knows what being different is all about, because he has lived it. No need to explain to him how it is to be seen as an outsider. He's not (yet) an equal civil marriage rights advocate, but he also thinks that gay people still deserve the same rights as anyone else & that our relationships deserve equal protection. I wish it were different & I wish he would just cut to the chase & come around to my point of view. It will happen one day, I know. Where GLBT equality is concerned, things just don't ever go as quickly as I think they should. A "no-brainer" to me may not be so to someone else...but at least Obama's (and John's & Hillary's & all the other Democrats') heart is not closed to changing at some point. Call me an optimist...
Like John Edwards, Barack represents for me, a fresh face. You obviously also cannot escape the fact that it is also a black face. The way I see it, most of us are craving so badly anyone who is most UNLIKE our current crop of "leaders". The difference between George DUBYA Bush and Barack Obama goes WAY beyond skin color. They are also people with two different life paths & life views. Dubya came from a life of privilege where his Mom & Dad were always there to bail him out (probably quite literally). Barack's Mom & Dad divorced & he lived with his mom in Hawaii & Indonesia. When it came time to find a career, Dubya's parents bailed him out of a bad oil deal & then helped their son to purchase part of the Texas Rangers baseball team & then later sell it for 24 times what he had invested. After graduating from Harvard, Barack went to work for a legal firm that specialized in civil rights legislation. The difference is like night & day...in so many ways!
Barack Obama's constant mantra of change & his dedication to doing what is right for ALL OF US & not just for those of us fortunate to be able to buy his ear speaks to more than just people like me. Like so many rats abandoning a sinking ship of state, republicans who have finally opened their eyes & their nostrils & have begun to catch a whiff of the poisonous brew of Dubya's willful incompetence & drunken cowboy attitude are slowly but surely shifting allegiances. The British internet newspaper, Times Online, for example, reported last year that,
"Tom Bernstein went to Yale University with Bush and co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team with him. In 2004 he donated the maximum $2,000 to the president’s reelection campaign and gave $50,000 to the Republican National Committee. This year he is switching his support to Obama. He is one of many former Bush admirers who find the Democrat newcomer appealing."
I also found a Harris poll reported that, nationwide, political Independents say they would consider voting for Obama over Clinton by 37% to 29%. Twice as many Republicans said they would consider voting for Obama as would consider voting for Clinton (14% vs 7%). That tells me that people of every political stripe are at least willing to listen to what he has to say. Call me Pollyanna, but it seems that Americans may be ready to ignore the labels & discard their pre-conceived notions to support a man who is what he seems to be: a man who dares to hope for better & who is willing to fight for it...and for us.
That's where my heart & my mind stand right now...as I write this. Hillary Clinton & John Edwards (& Bill Richardson & Dennis Kucinich & Mike Gravel) are not anathema to me. They are not my enemies. I would/will vote for any one of them in the general election, if they get my party's nomination. Except for John Edwards & Barack Obama, however, I have to wonder if my potential presidential vote in 2008 will just be anti-the-republican-candidate instead of pro-the-Democratic candidate. It would be so nice to vote my hope instead what has been left to me, lo these many years: voting out of sheer frustration.
If our country is fortunate enough to be presented with the chance to vote for either John Edwards or Barack Obama, I know that my vote will be made with a weariness for the way things are now & a longing for the promise of blessed change...not just change in office holders, but a national change of heart!