Nine months later, I've tallied it up. I've made thousands of phone calls for Senator Obama. I've walked dozens of miles and have knocked on hundreds of doors. I've had countless conversations with undecided voters here in Ohio, in the southwest of Ohio, specifically. I have a good understanding of why people love Obama, why they find him inspiring, an answer to their needs as Americans, why they feel that their hope in his leadership is justified.
Obama drew people like me because he represents something new on the political stage. He does for progressive politics what Reagan did for the conservative agenda. Instead of the progressive agenda being some scary version of leftwing radical morals and high taxes, Obama helped people like me see that compassionate care (shared responsibility) for our communities combined with protecting individual freedoms is the best way to govern.
We do that by prioritizing the needs of the middle class because it is the middle class that keeps our economy healthy and strong. The middle class also operates from a core of values that creates the energy to preserve and strengthen our institutions (like our schools, churches, local government and social services, including fire fighters, police, medical care and so on).
The notion that we can rely on big corporate executives to take the initiative to ensure that their incredible wealth would "trickle down" to the workers has been proven patently false (note the economic fiasco of the last month coupled with the fastest growing gap between top end incomes of executives and wage workers in their own companies). The issue isn't whether or not to tax the wealthy at a higher rate than the poor.
The issue is whether we can afford to make the middle class bear an increasingly large responsibility for the services they require when their incomes and opportunities are not growing at a rate comparable to their needs or the costs of these goods.
It's not okay to allow the market to determine everything. It can't govern our morality. It won't! As one of my professors used to say, "Businesses do what businesses do. They are about making money, not about being a philanthropy, or being interested in clean water or air. That's not what they do."
It is absurd to assume that a business that is making money is the most likely to create jobs in America. As we are seeing, many of those "jobs" are disappearing overseas for the sake of the business's health, not for the sake of the health of America's middle class.
Government, when done right, is supposed to foster opportunity to create wealth while providing services that take into account the real needs of its citizens. We've spent too long on the side of the pendulum where the creation of wealth (particularly for the few) has meant the neglect of our other moral obligation: the care of the citizens who have helped to generate that wealth.
If you live in a city where lay-offs of plant closures have occurred, you know what I'm talking about! You can't watch 2,000 people lose their jobs and expect the grocery stores, home mortgage lenders and gas stations to survive. You can't expect those schools to retain their funding.
We live in an interconnected way that is so fragile, any one change can throw a community into a dangerous spiral. On the other hand, our interconnectedness is an opportunity for inspiring partnership to create new ways of stabilizing and protecting our communities if we could see beyond our own private dreams.
Senator Obama represents that kind of thinking for people like me. And naturally, he says it better than I can:
The audacity of hope.Barack Obama has spent the last twenty months proving that he is so committed to that philosophy, nothing that has been thrown at him has derailed his primary message. He's fleshed it out in position papers, speeches, townhalls and debates. He's written books. He's been interviewed on every major network and 60 minutes. He's done hundreds of press interviews.
That was the best of the American spirit, I thought—having the audacity to believe despite all the evidence to the contrary that we could restore a sense of community to a nation torn by conflict; the gall to believe that despite personal setbacks, the loss of a job or an illness in the family or a childhood mired in poverty, we had some control—and therefore responsibility—over our own fate.
It was that audacity, I thought, that joined us as one people. It was that pervasive spirit of hope that tied my own family's story to the larger American story, and my own story to those of the voters I sought to represent.
Obama has stayed steady and calm, has stuck to the issues, has continued to talk about uniting us rather than dividing us.
I'm sick of the spurious attacks, the smears and suspicions that are hurled by those who won't vote for Obama. I can't help but think that the ones who are afraid of him are merely unconsciously (or in some cases consciously) afraid of a black man in office. But for my money, this is the man who's passed the test of leadership. After 8 miserable years under GW Bush, it's time to give Barack Obama's vision a shot.
It's time to flip the script. The Republicans have had their chance... and have blown it. It's time for change.
November 4 can't come fast enough!