Friday, October 31, 2008

My Presidential Crush

America is a country that, at its heart, wants to believe in itself. While some might say (and rightfully so) that we are overly enamored with our own greatness, I think what most Americans really want is to to be worthy of our standing in the world. We want to live up to our better angels. We want to trust that the best is still ahead of us. We want to believe in the good in all of us.

But it's hard, if not downright impossible, to do any of that when you don't feel good about yourself. And, at this point in our country's history, we just don't. There is nothing wrong with individual Americans, per se, but there is something terribly wrong with the country as a whole. After eight years of division and strife, war and recession, we are tired, scared and plain worn out. What we're looking for, quite simply, is hope.

The hope that we can overcome our differences. The hope that we can heal out broken government. The hope that the American dream still exists. And, for me, Barack Obama is that hope.

Now, admittedly and proudly, I voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries. I will forever be grateful to her for those 18 million cracks. She never ceases to amaze me with her intelligence, passion and heart. She would make a great president. It was an honor to cast my ballot for her and something I'll cherish always.

After the primaries, while there never was any doubt that Obama had my vote, my heart wasn't quite with him yet. It took time, both to heal and to grow. Slowly but surely, it happened. The more I heard him speak, the more I watched him work, the more I witnessed his temperament, the more I knew that this was the man who could create the America we yearn for. The America that is smart, the America that is just, the America that is kind.

Presidential politics have always been a delicate art of making grand themes and big ideas seem like humble kitchen table chit chat. We want our politics to be personal. Yet this election, I can't help but take things personally. When I think about what it would mean for America to elect Barack Obama president, the more hopeful I feel.

I feel hopeful not just for the changes he promises or the policies he promotes, but for what he represents. Make no mistake, I am voting for Obama because I think he has the better ideas. He will be a smart, thoughtful, capable and fair leader. Still there is another part of me that knows it is the unquantifiable impact of his presidency that will leave the most lasting impression on our country's history.

I grew up in the Midwest, an Asian-American kid in a small college town. So I know what it's like to live in a place where you stand out. I know what it's like to go to school and be different. I know what it's like to look on television and never see yourself. As a little girl, it was what I didn't see that shaped my earliest aspirations. I couldn't be a news anchor, because I had never seen any Asian news anchors. I couldn't be Miss America, because I had never seen an Asian Miss America. I certainly couldn't be the president, because I had never seen an Asian president – or woman president for that matter. Luckily, I had parents who instilled in me the true limitlessness of my dreams. And, thank heavens, they set me straight about the whole Miss America nonsense, too.

So when I think about what an Obama presidency would mean for generations of children growing up today, I feel a welcome tightness in my chest. It's not just that he would be the first African-American president, it's that he would be a symbol of the true limitless of the American dream. Maybe a little girl growing up in a small town will look at him and believe that it really isn't the color of our skin, but the content of our character that matters. And maybe she believes that one day she too can be president. Now that's hope. Happy weekend, all.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

WHOOOOOAAAAAAA.... back the train up. You're Asian-American?!
Isn't it strange how we create these images of people we have never seen? And the image I created of you was ... well, I'm not sure what it was, but it wasn't Asian.
I am in a state of confusion, and a state of intrigue all at once.
I must know more.

Anonymous said...

ack, sent that before it was ready.

I must know more, as I am excited.
I am aroused.
I am .. I am... I am going to go redraaw my image of you. :-)

Sue J said...

Excellent post!

Sarah in Chicago said...

Dorothy,

I wanted to say how much this post resonated in me.

I too was a Hillary supporter during the primaries; she inspired me in amazing ways, even as I disagreed with her on some matters. And honestly, even since Obama was confirmed as the candidate, she has continued to justify that support in her class, poise, intelligence, power and sheer statesperson-ship.

And honestly, for a while, I was tempted not to even openly support Obama, and remain neutral, particularly after his comments on women's reproductive rights.

But, he, ever so slowly, won me over. Particularly so during the debates, where he was just so damn Presidential that it virtually came through the screen. And when he came out against Prop 8, despite not supporting SSM. He gave me hope, not just in his intelligence and measure, but in what he stands for.

I don't think I'll ever truly "believe" (trust me, living in Chicago, his home-town, "belief" exists here), but he has my total support. He will make an excellent president, possibly one of the best in recent memory.

And in no small amount because he stands for something in America that Americans wish they could be. It's the dream of an America that they are told of as children, that they lose as reality becomes apparent as they become adults, but still yearn to go back to. Obama gives them a way to touch that dream again, to maybe lose themselves in what is supposed to be the best in America.

And that I most certainly can support.

Don't get me wrong, I do prefer his policies over McCain's (I mean, seriously, trashing "wealth redistribution"? You know what is the opposite of "wealth redistribution"? Wealth concentration), so this isn't a hollow support of personality. Despite being quite to the left of the Dems, I do like what Obama is proposing (though of course I wish he would go further naturally).

However, I'm a foreign student here in the US, so despite having my support and efforts, my vote really means nothing concrete (interestingly, having been out of my homeland for so long, I can no longer vote there either now, so I'm utterly unenfranchised).

So, I'll be sitting on tuesday, watching, and hoping, knowing I can do nothing really myself. That sucks, given I live here, but that's the way things are. But Obama nonetheless has my support.

He's got my hope.

long beach kelster said...

DS, great post. I could not agree more!
I truly hope that the rest of the country can be as galvanized by this need for hope and the amazing change that Obama will bring forth if elected on Tuesday.
I'll drink to that!
Cheers and Happy H'ween!

Anonymous said...

You, go, Dorothy!

Yes, we can.

Anonymous said...

And the thought of Sarah Palin in The WH leaves me terrified and so disappointed. When did this country come to the point that we welcome the mediocre and nondescript instead of excellence?

Obama does give me hope and to believe in our collective better angels.

An Arizonan NOT for McSame

Anonymous said...

Hmm. American politics is taking over at the moment, and being an English lass I felt out of my depth and so scrolled down to Tina Fey Thursday. Ahh what a gorgeous woman!

madmags said...

Dear Ms Snarker,

You've done it again. Hit us right between the eyes and right where we live. So dead on!!

While I cannot wait for next Wednesday to have all of this a thing of the past, you have reawakened all of my enthusiasm and spirit. I am anxious to cast my (Hillary vote) new vote for Obama, and with pride and hope.

Snarks, sorry you are going to have to update your resume to read
"Total F***ing Bomb!!! :)

Maggie

Pugs said...

Dear Ms. Snarker,
Pow! You knocked it out of the park! I've lurked but seldom posted on your blog for 2 years. I love your mind! But this blog today is your best yet. You summed up nicely how so many of us feel about Obama. He gives us hope that tomorrow CAN be better. He makes us believe that anything is achievable. Isn't that what a good leader is supposed to do?

Have a great weekend, you sexy beast! :)

www.ComeTogetherGiftBaskets.com

Linda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda said...

For the sake of the 95% of the rest of the planet who aren't American, and so have no vote in the election which probably matters most in the world....please vote for positive change with Obama, not negative stagnation with McCain.

I for one will shed tears of joy if I wake up on Wednesday here in Scotland to find that it is indeed a new dawn, and will only wish that Rosa Parks had been alive to witness it :-)

slacker said...

1. VOTE
2. VOTE
3. VOTE
4. VOTE
5. VOTE
6. VOTE
7. VOTE
8. VOTE
9. VOTE
...there. 9 more reasons to VOTE....aka, the US Supreme Court.

Nice work, Ms. Snarker.

Lezlie Mac said...

Yeah, what she said !
Brilliantly put, nothing to add. Go vote you hopeful Americans !

Tina-cious.com said...

What an awesome picture of him! :)

I agree. We need hope.

I need hope.

I've lost all that I once possessed.

Magnolia31 said...

I vote for Dorothy !!! (hey, if you are older than 35 you could be President of the United States of America ;-)

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic post. I feel like so much of what you said was plucked directly from my brain.

invisigoth said...

As a European this isn't my election. But I sure would vote for Obama if I could.
Brilliant post, Mrs Snarker!

Amanda said...

Thanks that was great piece! Personally I was for Obama since that speech at the DNC. I already knew I'd never vote for McCain but I wasn't really cemented on anyone yet. I'm always glad to see when intelligent and good people agree with me :D

TJ said...

Your post struck a chord in me and so perfectly synthesized what I too was thinking. Similarly, I voted for Clinton and was disappointed when she lost, but I have since become an Obama supporter. As an Asian-American, I hope that he will break down barriers and show generations to come what could be.

"while we breathe, we will hope"

dc said...

I'm speechless. You made me cry. I am not from the US. I live in Canada. And we often had a hard time
relating to your country.

But you, Ms. Snarker, represents the best of what the US has to offer. Like Obama.

I salute you.

Kristen said...

BEAUTIFULLY said! I'd like to think that that's how I would put it if I were a bit more erudite :)

Vale said...

Beautiful post. from the duality of my own identity, first as an italian, and secondly as an american, i understand the concept of voting and speaking for the rest of the world, who will be affected by these elections whether it wants to be or not. I am proud to say that I voted already, with my absentee ballot, and that i darkened the little oval close to the names of Obama and Biden. I felt proud, not to be an american, as it still doesn't feel like "me", but to be able to help this country find the best part of itself, for its own good and for everyone else's.

Dear Ms. Snarker, please don't consider me too forward if i say that i felt for you reading your post, and that i just wanted to envelope you in a great, big hug. Reading this post, and realizing i don't know you at all made me feel...weird. We don't know each other, and yet you feel like a celebrity to me in my little internet world. I respect your opinions and your intelligence and your wit, and while i usually admire from afar, this post showed a vulnerable side that i'd never seen, and that made you feel closer to me. and since i'm sounding stalkerish i'll explain better...i felt a connection. a simple human connection that in the real world you can just obtain by touching someone's hand or by seeing them smile, and suddenly you understand them better and you feel...a kinship. the kinship of being human, and just sharing that humanity with each other. although i have never seen you, i feel now that kinship with you, and i want to thank you for sharing that with me. I'll treasure it.

cocoro said...

sometimes i wonder...what're you..

Ms. Schrepfer said...

will you marry me?

CW said...

Dorothy,
Thank you for your beautiful words.

TechGirl said...

Dorothy,

You are an amazing writer who clearly express herself and invite us in with warmth and joy. I respect you and your position.

Hopefully we can agree to disagree on Obama. I voted for Hillary and would still vote for her on November 4th. While he is likely the winner on Tuesday, he won't be getting my vote. I find Obama insincere. The treatment Hillary received from Obama and his staff should be an indication of his lack of character.

Obama's position on gay rights is to let the states decide. Such a joke. Would civil rights be where they are today if JFK took the same position? What happens if you get married in California, your partner gets a promotion requiring a transfer to a state with no gay rights? All I want is the same rights. Nothing more and nothing less.

With the interest this election is generating, I'm hoping we'll have an historic turnout regardless of the winner. Too bad, we can't be electing our first female president.

Katherine Simon said...

I, too, was a loud and proud Hillary supporter. And yes, for me, too, it was an honor, and I would seize the opportunity to vote for her again should it come up. That said, like you, I knew Obama had my vote after the primaries. But I recently got on the hope train. I just starting believing this guy could mean something new, something different. I'm starting to buy into it, the blank, unholy faith of it.

I'm starting to get on board. I'm starting to see it. And my vote is already cast.

Anonymous said...

“Barack is an intellectual guy, and I know he has been thinking through his position on gay marriage, and what is fair for all people,” said Michael Bauer, an openly gay fund-raiser for Mr. Obama and an adviser to his campaign on gay issues. “But he is just not there with us on this issue.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/01/us/politics/01marriage.html?hp

Q: What's the difference btw. McCain and Obama on gay marriage?
A: None.

They want our votes but they could care less if we can marry. Am I the only lesbian who hasn't been swept away by Obama fever?

Thank ___ there's a 3rd party.

Sha25 said...

Beautiful Post! Definitely a history making election and if elected what a history making moment. Thanks DS, I was touched. Yes We Can! Obama/Biden 08!

Jean said...

My weekend crush... Dorothy Snarker.

Jul said...

Not my crush.

He's better than most, but still the guy thinks gays shouldn't be allowed to marry. That sucks. So, he thinks we should have the same rights? well, maybe I should be more excited that someone wants to make me a second class citizen in a relationship not called a marriage like his own. I would have hoped he would have known better.

Despite the pretty talk, it's still discrimination.

While I'll certainly be voting, the talking point that both parties seem to agree on, is that gays just shouldn't be married like everyone else.

no crush here.

Jessie said...

Well said!

I supported Hillary, but I will be casting my ballot in NC for Obama - yes we can!

We've come too far to revert to yet ANOTHER catastrophic GOP presidency.

I was debating McCain vs. Obama with my mom last night - she too, was a Hillary supporter - and is still somewhat torn about who to vote for. She's an independent and feels like Hillary was treated poorly by the democratic party as a whole. Anyway, we were talking for awhile when I said, "mom, it comes down to two words: Supreme Court."

She is now 100% sure she will vote for Obama-Biden!

The stakes are too high for more-of-the-same-John-McCain.

Lilea said...

I am an Asian-American too. I have been reading your blog for a while and as someone said that I too couldn't imagine you as an asian....I am sorry, but well said.
I think all of us should go out and vote for Barack Obama on 11/4/08, let put this to a change for once.

KT said...

Re: comments about it being hard to picture DS as Asian American - we'd likely see DS as being straight, too, if her blog wasn't so wonderfully gay. It reminded me to question my assumptions - thanks DS!

nycrouge said...

Thank you for beautifully encapsulating, Ms. Snarker, what it means to be an American. Hope, faith in the greater good, optimism, and meritocracy. While the last eight years have been hard and hard enough to see what it means to be an American diminished in the eyes of the rest of the world, it's nice to know that come Tuesday we have a shot of becoming a great nation in the eyes of our global neighbors again.

TechGirl said...

Thanks Anonymous,

Yes, it's fine I pay the same taxes but I am still a second class American without equal rights.

I'm not crazy about McSame yet he is getting my vote. Obama is an amazing speaking who he could not explain away his 20 years with Rev Wright. Oprah left. Why didn't he?

He said about Pennsylvanaia, "it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations". Now being a lesbian, how much more different can I get? Damn, guess I'll just have to get happy cleaning the gun I don't have or find religion.

All this is from someone who campaigned for McGovern, Carter, Clinton, Gore and Kerry.

TechGirl said...

And thanks for not flaming me!

Mo said...

It breaks my heart that gay Americans still have no champion in a presidential election, and once again, they can choose between two candidates and parties that don't believe gays deserve real equality under the law.

True: "back of the bus" certainly beats "under the bus."

But why do we have to settle for that? The gay vote is sufficient to make or break the Democrats, if we'd just demand better.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if people who clearly have intelligence and compassion could vote from a place that wasn't so narrow and selfish. If there is no difference between Obama and McCain on gay marriage, then think about where each candidate stands on the other great issues of our age. Who would be better for workers? For single parents? For the elderly? For the uninsured? For the environment? For the Iraqi citizens? For the whole entire freaking planet? Clearly Barack Obama is about the future and the betterment of all people.
Also, in no part of my brain do I think that he is going to stand in the way of the rights of gay people once the tidal wave of inevitable change swells to the white house. I can't say the same about John McCain.

Anonymous said...

" in no part of my brain do I think that he is going to stand in the way of the rights of gay people once the tidal wave of inevitable change swells to the white house. I can't say the same about John McCain."

i agree with that completely.

yes, it is a vote for the back of the bus vs. under the bus.

can you imagine what would happen to our fight for rights should Palin take over?

no difference, really?

Anonymous said...

Our rights: narrow and selfish?

Oh Anon, take your guilt trip elsewhere...and keep hoping for Obama to change on gay rights. You'll inevitably be disappointed.