- I first heard of Barack Obama in January 2006, when I was twenty years old, and before there was anything but vague speculation amongst a few about this young Senator and a presidential bid. I visited Washington, D.C., to discuss with a national panel of people brought together by College Summit (an amazing organization that brings together students who have the odds stacked against them to ever attend college) why students don't go to college, and how to address that in our specific communities. I met a young man named Willie, who had worked on Barack's Senate Campaign. We had dinner in Chinatown, and he told me about this person whom I couldn't believe was in politics-- his politics were so close to mine I couldn't believe that someone that left was ever elected on the national level. Willie said he thought Obama might try for President in a few elections (who knew it would be the next one?). I told Willie that was a candidate I could get behind, get really excited about. But Willie's Obama, by the nature of campaigns and politics, has had to compromise on his progressivism, courting votes from the moderates. I understand it-- it's the nature of elections. But I was disappointed on hearing his position on Israel (which I don't think is genuine to the way he really feels). On his supporting immunity for telecommunication companies that violated Constitutional Rights. For being less vocal about the disenfranchised after securing the nomination-- women, people of color, the LGBT community. For voting for a bail-out that looks more like Bush's Trickle Down than anything truly effective for the average citizen. So I am not voting for Obama to remind him of his progressive, leftist roots. I want him to know there are active voters and citizens that support his leftist policies, that want to hear more about "socialist" economic policies, who want a president willing to be a diplomat before a war-monger, and not be apologetic about it. I want a real leftist president-- a person who is concerned with the power of the people. I saw this in Willie's Obama-- and I want that Obama back once he's in office.
- I live in California. I can vote for yo momma, and it's not gonna make a difference. If I was in a swing state, or even a state that was within ten poll points, my vote would be for Obama. But as a California voter, I have a unique opportunity to support something I believe is very important for a truly representative democracy-- and that is a multi-party system. If you listen to enough political pundits, you'll hear references to conservatives, neo-cons, moderates, left-to-center Democrats. All of these labels attempt to define politician's platforms, votes, and actions on a nuanced spectrum of left-to-right. What should be noted is if the politicians show this diversity, than the millions of constituents they serve will be even more diverse. So why just two parties? What America does that represent? I want to vote for a candidate who most closely represents my beliefs, and I want a Congress that isn't regularly effectually gridlocked by party affiliations-- be it opposing parties leading the executive and legislative national government (like the last years of Bill Clinton), or a judicial system that can, with one appointee, make a decision that only represents roughly half of the nation. With the effect of third parties in recent elections, I believe it is time Washington recognizes that people want more choices in their candidates.
Yet for all of the reasons above-- I believe that Obama is the best candidate. I believe that no other candidate (in my short voting life of two presidential elections) has the chance to change America from the Imperialist, classcist nation it is. I think no other candidate will open the possibilities to third parties carrying real weight in America, and no other candidate will consider the working and needful classes as Obama will. But I also believe that to be that President, Obama needs citizens who expect nothing less from him, and support him every time he makes moves in these directions-- and to keep him (and all our other elected officials) accountable every time he doesn't follow through.
We got approval from where I work to keep the election coverage going tomorrow, and Virginia and Pennsylvania's polls will close while I'm on, and with students all around me, I don't know how I'm going to handle it. But I have hope for change, and hope for America. And with my vote tomorrow, I have dissent-- the best tool a citizen has for getting that change.