Archive for the ‘40 Reasons to Vote for Obama’ Category

Reason #1: Obama’s Dream Team

November 4, 2008

Brotha’s on the street / and everyone is scared a ya
So how could ten africans represent america?

Remember the Dream Team in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics? The USA Basketball team, for the first time composed of NBA players, swept the gold. On the team were some of the world’s greatest players ever:

Start with three of the game’s all-time greats: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Add the irrepressible Charles Barkley for a little spice, as well as seven more NBA All-Stars: centers David Robinson and Patrick Ewing, power forward Karl Malone, swingmen Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin and Clyde Drexler and point guard John Stockton. Complete the roster with Christian Laettner, the best college player of 1991-92 and a future NBA All-Star.

The Dream Team was amazing on the court, but as Michael Franti of the hip hop/funk band Spearhead notes, “in the same year we saw Rodney King.” In asking how “ten africans can represent america,” he calls out persistent racial politics in the USA and proposes his own “dream team” of politically active, socially engaged black americans who have made their marks (publicly recognized or not) on history.

Who’s on Franti’s Dream Team? Here are some of the lyrics from the song (and click here to listen):

Well Chuck D’s announcin’/ Flava’s doin’ color
Halftime enterntainment by Dre and Ed Lover
Malcolm X is the coach he’s drawin’ up the strategy
He’s choppin up America’s anatomy
’cause they’re the ones/ we’re up against of course
Our general manager is Chief Crazy Horse
Huey Newton/ ’cause he was extra hard
He’s the one/ who would be playin at the shootin’ guard
I dreamed Charles Barkley would be
Played by Marcus Garvey
He’d be throwin people off his back and makin
Sure they never got a rebound rebound / and
He’d throw it to the outlet
Nat Turner/ ’cause he can turn the corner when
He’s out there
He be flyin through the air/ throwin passes like
He really doesn’t care/behind the back /and in
Between the legs
He’s handlin the rock /as gently as an egg
He’s throwin it in/ to Angela Davis’s neighborhood
She’s postin up down in the extra hard wood
She grabs the pill/ and then she puts her shoulder down
Get out the way/ ’cause she’s gonna throw down now
Boom /oh my god! i just can’t believe it
Get anotha backboard or bettah yet leave it.
We always play for fun /but we always play for keeps
The game is over and the loser’s gotta sweep.
Up the glass/ that we busted in the ass
Set the record straight /about america’s past
This is my dream team.

Sister Rosa Parks is the first one off the bench. And Dr. King? He rotates in.

If only some of these people were alive to see today. To see Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for the office of President of the United States of America. And even though there is still much work to be done, to see how far this country has come.

In “Daring to Dream of a Black President,” celebrated poet Maya Angelou brings this home with her comments:

I never thought I’d see a black president in the White House in my lifetime. I didn’t even dare dream it. I feel like a child approaching Christmas, you can’t believe election day is finally here. It’s been so long since we’ve had people — Asian and black, white and Spanish-speaking — come together and say YES. Some did during the civil rights struggle but not as many as today. What it means if Mr Obama is voted in, is that my country has agreed to grow up, and move beyond the childish idea that human beings are different.

Samuel Jackson speaks out too:

It’s not just about what an Obama victory will mean to the African American community, it’s for the nation in general. It means something for the little Asian kid, or the little Hispanic kid, for everybody of a different origin than Anglo-American. It actually means that the lie that they told us all these years — that you can grow up to be anything you want to be in America, even the president — might actually be true now. Until this election, it was just a fantasy — you had to be white to be president. The closest we got to it was when Jimmy Smits was elected president on the West Wing or Morgan Freeman being president on screen.

Stevie Wonder calls Obama a “combination of JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr.” As Ta-Nehisi Coates muses in Time magazine—–right now “the most famous black man in America isn’t dribbling a basketball or holding a microphone.” Instead, he is running for President.

So, what would Obama’s Dream Team look like?

Obama himself says that it would be bipartisan.

Given the vast network of supporters Obama has across the political parties, there is no shortage of excellent candidates for him to draw upon. Foreign Policy magazine solicited “Dream Team” cabinets for the next president from pundits of all political persuasions, and got some thoughtful and creative replies.

Want to see who’s supposedly being considered? Check out this list of potential nominees from “sources close” to the Obama campaign.

Sitting here in Colorado while the country votes (its roughly 2 pm mountain time), I feel a sense of anticipation, enthusiasm, and energy unlike anything I’ve experienced before in my twenty years of voting in presidential elections (R.I.P. Dukakis 1988). There is a groundswell of support for Obama that is both humbling and inspiring. Change is not just coming. No matter the outcome of the election, change is already here.

The last word before election results are in goes to the rapper Jay-Z. He says:

Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so that Obama could run. Obama’s running so that we all can fly. I can’t wait until 5 November and I’m going to say ‘Hello, Brother President’. I can’t tell you who to vote for. All I can do is tell you to vote.

Here we go, flying at last.

-Carole, mother of two, proudly wearing her Hockey Mama for Obama shirt today, and hoping and praying that our collective dreams are converted to reality tonight, Gunbarrel, Colorado


Reason #2: For Voices Like Sister Regina

November 3, 2008

Yesterday I said goodbye to my uncle and aunt after a family wedding over the weekend. As they drove away, I caught a glimpse of a small card they had hanging from their rear view mirror. I took a second look somewhat incredulously – there was Barack hanging proudly from the rear view mirror!

This got me to thinking about how this guy, who stands on the cusp of being elected to our presidency – hopefully – tomorrow, has managed to inspire voices from around the country, as well as the world to shout, speak, sing, and even cry out in support. How did Obama, in essence, come to adorn people’s rear view mirrors?

Sure, there have been some  oratory displays on issues that have long plagued our country, like race, that will surely go down in history. There have also been a sound political platform and promises of change.

But the excitement I’m seeing in the streets and cafes and airports and universities clearly trancends these essential aspects of a campaign. People are literally moved to tears over the raw emotion Obama evokes.

I’m betting the Obama mystique represents something much bigger. I’m betting it represents not only him having a voice and presenting policies we more or less agree with. I’m betting, on a larger scale, that Obama represents – more than ever before in our lifetimes – the possibility that you and I and our neighbors and friends might actually become part of a new progressive majority that is able to be heard amidst the cacophony of that complex and monolithic thing we call government (remember those community organizing roots that Palin bashed as unimportant). That would be a change. And that possibility is what is making people cry (and we’re talking public figures like Oprah, Chris Matthews, and Drew Barrymore, but also regular folks who attend his rallies).

Now this won’t come without a price, my friends (said in my best McCain accent). Here’s what Obama is asking of us from this point forward, if he gets into the White House.

First of all, he’s demanding that people wake up and pay attention to the world around them (remember that bumper sticker we’ve all probably seen, “if you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention!). Never before have I heard people debate the issues surrounding a presidential campaign in such an involved and impassioned way. Obama inspires this, he challenges us to get off our arses and get involved. But that can only happen when you have a clue what you’re getting involved in.

Secondly, Obama demands that we laugh at ourselves. Sometimes even in public. Never before have we had a presidential candidate inspire so much attention from our mainstream public media outlets. He dances. He sings – in Spanish. He appears on comedy shows. His performances even demanded that McCain and Palin meet him on this turf (click here to view – or read – that famous moose rap again!). This has certainly added some levity to a very long campaign. But more importantly, it helps take that mystery out of the people we have running for office in order to run our country. Beyond seeing them in debates and giving scripted stump speeches, we see them, to a degree, as people. People who can laugh at themselves.

Finally, after inspiring us to get educated, and to laugh at ourselves, Obama demands that we take to the streets. That we participate in whatever level we want to – from our neighborhoods to our world community, with everything in between. Sure, tomorrow holds promise for record numbers of voters. But, even more importantly, it holds promise for an involvement – that begins tomorrow – from those who haven’t been heard before. And that, my friends (yeah, I’m not letting John take that line from me) is powerful.

So, let me fill you in on the reason behind the Obama car ornament. Sure, my relatives (well, at least some of them) are voting for Obama. But here’s why they hung him up to accompany them on their drive. My uncle writes:

My uncle writes:
“The Obama picture hanging from the rear view mirror has a history—doesn’t everything! When Jean (my Aunt) was recovering from breast cancer she became friends with a Mercy Sister—Sister Regina Gnoit—she also had breast cancer and was in recovery.

Regina was a person on the cutting edge of most movements. Every Sunday she would go to the Art Institute on Michigan Ave in Chicago and carry a picket sign—for anything and everything—against poverty, the Iraq War, Bush; Death Penalty ; etc. etc.

This past spring Sister Regina became very ill. She wrote personally to Barack. She got a very nice note back signed by Barack and Michelle Obama. Regina made many of the pictures for her friends. She tried her hardest to live to vote for Barack—she died about 6 weeks ago.

Thus the picture.

Regina was one of a kind.”

So tomorrow as you take to the streets to vote or canvas, as you get yourself to work, and see those around you holding signs, many for the first time, think about participation. Some folks, like Sister Regina standing on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, have been at this for a long time. Others will begin tomorrow. Perhaps inspired by Obama. Because behind the rhetoric and the hype, he represents something that more than ever before is now a possibility. Your voice.

What do you want to say?


As a postscript to this post, I just received the latest Obama video. It couldn’t be more appropriate for my message above. Check it out here. Then ladies, men, children… lace up your skates, and head out on the rink. Sure, it will be slippery. If you fall your butt might get a little wet on those spots the Zamboni just passed over. But there will be guard rails, and your teammates, to help you along.

Take your shot at the goal – vote Obama!

– Colleen, mother of three in Boulder, Colorado who thinks it would be the highest compliment ever to be described as “being at the front of most movements.”

#3: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terror

November 2, 2008

The time has come to end the war in Iraq responsibly.  To end it with dignity, with compassion, and with the greatest respect for life of all involved—soldiers, civilians, everyone.

Barack Obama is ready with a plan to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end.  And, he’s ready to begin serious discussions of what new plans we need for addressing al Qaeda and Afghanistan.

As with so many other issues in this election, political observers across party lines have taken notice.  In Time magazine, Joe Klein writes about Obama’s meeting with General Petraeus as engaged, serious, and respectful.

General David Petraeus deployed overwhelming force when he briefed Barack Obama and two other Senators in Baghdad last July. He knew Obama favored a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, and he wanted to make the strongest possible case against it. And so, after he had presented an array of maps and charts and PowerPoint slides describing the current situation on the ground in great detail, Petraeus closed with a vigorous plea for “maximum flexibility” going forward.

Obama had a choice at that moment. He could thank Petraeus for the briefing and promise to take his views “under advisement.” Or he could tell Petraeus what he really thought, a potentially contentious course of action — especially with a general not used to being confronted. Obama chose to speak his mind. “You know, if I were in your shoes, I would be making the exact same argument,” he began. “Your job is to succeed in Iraq on as favorable terms as we can get. But my job as a potential Commander in Chief is to view your counsel and interests through the prism of our overall national security.” Obama talked about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the financial costs of the occupation of Iraq, the stress it was putting on the military.

A “spirited” conversation ensued, one person who was in the room told me. “It wasn’t a perfunctory recitation of talking points. They were arguing their respective positions, in a respectful way.” The other two Senators — Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed — told Petraeus they agreed with Obama. According to both Obama and Petraeus, the meeting — which lasted twice as long as the usual congressional briefing — ended agreeably. Petraeus said he understood that Obama’s perspective was, necessarily, going to be more strategic. Obama said that the timetable obviously would have to be flexible. But the Senator from Illinois had laid down his marker: if elected President, he would be in charge. Unlike George W. Bush, who had given Petraeus complete authority over the war — an unprecedented abdication of presidential responsibility (and unlike John McCain, whose hero worship of Petraeus bordered on the unseemly) — Obama would insist on a rigorous chain of command.

At The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan lists his Top Ten Reasons Conservatives Should Vote for Obama, and Reason #1 on his list (below) is The War Against Islamicist Terror.

10. A body blow to racial identity politics. An end to the era of Jesse Jackson in black America.

9. Less debt. Yes, Obama will raise taxes on those earning over a quarter of a million. And he will spend on healthcare, Iraq, Afghanistan and the environment. But so will McCain. He plans more spending on health, the environment and won’t touch defense of entitlements. And his refusal to touch taxes means an extra $4 trillion in debt over the massive increase presided over by Bush. And the CBO estimates that McCain’s plans will add more to the debt over four years than Obama’s. Fiscal conservatives have a clear choice.

8. A return to realism and prudence in foreign policy. Obama has consistently cited the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush as his inspiration. McCain’s knee-jerk reaction to the Georgian conflict, his commitment to stay in Iraq indefinitely, and his brinksmanship over Iran’s nuclear ambitions make him a far riskier choice for conservatives. The choice between Obama and McCain is like the choice between George H.W. Bush’s first term and George W.’s.

7. An ability to understand the difference between listening to generals and delegating foreign policy to them.

6. Temperament. Obama has the coolest, calmest demeanor of any president since Eisenhower. Conservatism values that kind of constancy, especially compared with the hot-headed, irrational impulsiveness of McCain.

5. Faith. Obama’s fusion of Christianity and reason, his non-fundamentalist faith, is a critical bridge between the new atheism and the new Christianism.

4. A truce in the culture war. Obama takes us past the debilitating boomer warfare that has raged since the 1960s. Nothing has distorted our politics so gravely; nothing has made a rational politics more elusive.

3. Two words: President Palin.

2. Conservative reform. Until conservatism can get a distance from the big-spending, privacy-busting, debt-ridden, crony-laden, fundamentalist, intolerant, incompetent and arrogant faux conservatism of the Bush-Cheney years, it will never regain a coherent message to actually govern this country again. The survival of conservatism requires a temporary eclipse of today’s Republicanism. Losing would be the best thing to happen to conservatism since 1964. Back then, conservatives lost in a landslide for the right reasons. Now, Republicans are losing in a landslide for the wrong reasons.

1. The War Against Islamist terror. The strategy deployed by Bush and Cheney has failed. It has failed to destroy al Qaeda, except in a country, Iraq, where their presence was minimal before the US invasion. It has failed to bring any of the terrorists to justice, instead creating the excrescence of Gitmo, torture, secret sites, and the collapse of America’s reputation abroad. It has empowered Iran, allowed al Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan, made the next vast generation of Muslims loathe America, and imperiled our alliances. We need smarter leadership of the war: balancing force with diplomacy, hard power with better p.r., deploying strategy rather than mere tactics, and self-confidence rather than a bunker mentality.

Those conservatives who remain convinced, as I do, that Islamist terror remains the greatest threat to the West cannot risk a perpetuation of the failed Manichean worldview of the past eight years, and cannot risk the possibility of McCain making rash decisions in the middle of a potentially catastrophic global conflict. If you are serious about the war on terror and believe it is a war we have to win, the only serious candidate is Barack Obama.

I agree with both of them: Barack Obama is clear on what needs to be done to address terrorism.  Click here to read and listen to his speech to the Iraq Study Group on August 1, 2007.

Crucially, his vision for Iraq, Afghanistan, and al Qaeda does not portray Islam or Muslim peoples as enemies–as the McCain/Palin team and supporters do (wink, wink)–but as peoples to work with, to learn from, and to support.  Obama realizes that the war on terror needs to be a war on poverty and lack of opportunity and on the unchecked US power so representative of the Bush/Cheney years.

In his speech to the Iraq Study Group, Obama made this clear:

As President, I will make it a focus of my foreign policy to roll back the tide of hopelessness that gives rise to hate. Freedom must mean freedom from fear, not the freedom of anarchy. I will never shrug my shoulders and say — as Secretary Rumsfeld did — “Freedom is untidy.” I will focus our support on helping nations build independent judicial systems, honest police forces, and financial systems that are transparent and accountable. Freedom must also mean freedom from want, not freedom lost to an empty stomach. So I will make poverty reduction a key part of helping other nations reduce anarchy.

I will double our annual investments to meet these challenges to $50 billion by 2012. And I will support a $2 billion Global Education Fund to counter the radical madrasas — often funded by money from within Saudi Arabia — that have filled young minds with messages of hate. We must work for a world where every child, everywhere, is taught to build and not to destroy. And as we lead we will ask for more from our friends in Europe and Asia as well — more support for our diplomacy, more support for multilateral peacekeeping, and more support to rebuild societies ravaged by conflict.

I will also launch a program of public diplomacy that is a coordinated effort across my Administration, not a small group of political officials at the State Department explaining a misguided war. We will open “America Houses” in cities across the Islamic world, with Internet, libraries, English lessons, stories of America’s Muslims and the strength they add to our country, and vocational programs. Through a new ” America’s Voice Corps” we will recruit, train, and send out into the field talented young Americans who can speak with — and listen to — the people who today hear about us only from our enemies.

As President, I will lead this effort. In the first 100 days of my Administration, I will travel to a major Islamic forum and deliver an address to redefine our struggle. I will make clear that we are not at war with Islam, that we will stand with those who are willing to stand up for their future, and that we need their effort to defeat the prophets of hate and violence. I will speak directly to that child who looks up at that helicopter, and my message will be clear: “You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now.”

This is the sort of global leadership our country needs—rebuilding here at home, rebuilding around the world.  Hockey Moms say, “Barack Obama for U.S. President 2008!

–Carole, mom of two, who prefers to think of the US as either a power forward or strong defense player rather than the goon always in the penalty box, Gunbarrel, Colorado

Reason #4: The Rest of the World is Voting Obama!

November 1, 2008

There is a lot of discussion outside of the United States about this election. You read the post from a friend having dinner with people from Spain, Uruguay, and Canada. You read Dona Otilia’s poem to Obama.

Here are some other links revealing how Obama is perceived outside of our borders. Pretty impressive.

– the Global Electoral College

– cast your vote along with folks around the globe, or just jump to the results

– check out the 4-to-1 margin of Obama’s victory in opinion polls in other countries

– see the countries most aligned with Obama

– or just listen to the music Obama is inspiring by musicians around the world from…Japan (a catchy tune called Obama is Beautiful World that will stick with you, longer than you want, by a Japanese band who is rallying the CITY of Obama, waving their arms, and dancing YMCA-style), as well as a host of other countries (Trinidad, Cameroon, Mexico, Jamaica)

You get the picture. As Obama says about other things, “you can’t make this stuff up.”

People are psyched.

So feel proud that you are in the same rink, so to speak, as THE REST OF THE WORLD.

Vote Obama in 3 days!

– Colleen, mother of three in Boulder, Colorado, who is thrilled at the possibility of not having to cringe when she says she’s a U.S. American when traveling internationally

Reason #5: We’re with Margaret and Helen

October 31, 2008

There are so many, many reasons to vote for Barack Obama.

One  is that your vote puts you in company that truly showcases the glorious diversity that is the United States of America.  When Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff endorses Obama—as he just did–then you know we are in the midst of something really remarkable happening in this country.

Even professional athletes, a group not usually politically outspoken, is lining up for Obama.  How about Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Charles Barkley, and Michael Jordan himself?

From the people on your block, down the street, across town, two towns over, to people several states over, to people who might have never voted Democrat before, this election has already changed things in this country.  All the big-name endorsements aside, what’s been most exciting to us is the infectious combination of hope and energy so evident among regular folks in the USA–folks like yours truly, hockey moms for Obama.

(Wait. Did you not click on hockey moms for Obama?  Here, try again: this is the hockey moms’ version of Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina Sarah Palin.)

In this election, we feel exhilarated to be part of a real groundswell of change.  From young kids like the Ron Clark Academy kids rocking the vote to grandmothers Margaret and Helen rocking the blogosphere, we’re in good company.

Still not sure who to vote for?  Have we not convinced you yet?  Then absolutely check out Margaret and Helen’s post: If You Are Undecided, You’re Not Paying Attention.

Then, pay attention and vote (for Obama)!

Reason #6: Social Responsibility Isn’t Socialism

October 30, 2008

While I’ve written a bit on this before, I just have to return to the idea of wealth. Who has it and wants to keep it, who doesn’t have it and wants to taste just a morsel of the pie of life.

Perhaps it is the minivan I see almost daily at my daughter’s school that has a large “No Socialism, Vote McCain” painted on it by hand.

Perhaps I’m thinking about this a lot because last night I was subjected to the latest Palin ranting, “Barack Obama is going to redistribute your wealth.” Then, of course, she linked this redistribution to taxes (click here for a nice break-down of the two candidates’ positions, complete with a cast of characters).

Whatever the reason, this wealth redistribution stuff, which is being uttered a lot in the waning days of the campaign, strikes me as offensive on many, many levels. However, let’s just examine two points:

1. This doesn’t make sense! All of these claims of socialism and redistribution are sensationalistic ploys. As Obama has said, time and time again, he defines “wealthy” as those making $250,000 or more per year. So do I. I just firmly believe that those who are doing pretty well financially, who can make their mortgage payments and have food on the table every night, have a social and moral responsibility to help out those who aren’t in this state. I have had countless advantages in life – a stable family, a great education, good physical and mental health, and a solid support network of friends, to mention just a few – and I’m not making $250,000 per year even with these advantages! Imagine those who haven’t had the half of this.

Its just a big lottery of life, and we need to take care of those who didn’t get the lucky numbers. That’s why Obama’s idea of wealth and taxes, which would work toward closing the gap between the haves and the have nots, doesn’t offend me or incite fear as it does in the Republician ticket. It’s the socially responsible thing to do.

2. This brings me to my second point – the recent comments about “wealth distribution” really irk me on creepier, more insidious level. This is because it seems that McCain and Palin are trying to shift our value system as a society. It appears they are trying to strip us of our empathy towards others.

I’m not the only one with this view. Here are a few takes on that line you’ve probably heard about how a society will be judged by how it treats its poor…

From Confucius:
In a country well governed poverty is something to be ashamed of.
In a country badly governed wealth is something to be ashamed of.
From James Baldwin (an African American writer):
Anyone who has struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
From Jean-Paul Sartre:
When the rich wage war it is the poor who die.

And, one of my favorite’s from that little powerhouse of a nun, Mother Teresa:

At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in.’

Herein lies what really scares me about the position the Republicans are taking toward wealth – they can’t picture themselves as hungry, naked, or homeless. Even today, in an economic crisis that is scaring the bejezus out of many folks, they insist that we don’t need to consider those less fortunate. And that, to me, just seems wrong.

– Colleen, mother of three from Boulder, Colorado, who hopes she can become proud of how our country treats those occupying the lowest rungs of the economic totem pole.

Reason #7: Justice

October 30, 2008

That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.

–Langston Hughes

I love my country.  I’m proud to be an American, and proud of our contributions to democracy throughout the world.  We are not perfect – far from it; we have denied justice to our own for centuries.  Yet in spite of our failures, I see in our form of government and the good hearts of our people the world’s best chance to reach the goal of equality and justice for all.  Our example, with all its flaws, has been a light to oppressed people throughout the world.

Such a role demands that our nation and its leaders uphold the principles of justice on which our country was founded.  Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case during the past two presidential terms.  From the invasion of Iraq to invasions of our privacy in the name of “homeland security,” our actions have changed our reputation from that of just nation to arrogant one.  It has cost us much of the world’s trust.

Some Americans are fine with this shift in our world role, preferring to define it in terms of military might.  I find it incredibly sad.  I want our country to be respected again, and deserving of the friendship of our allies.  I want us to be the kind of leader that will guide the world to peace rather than destruction.

To regain our reputation, we have to renew our commitment to justice.  The Bush administration’s position on torture, its lengthy confinement of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo without trial, and its efforts to increase surveillance of American citizens seems to say that security and justice cannot coexist.  That’s a dangerous attitude, one that John McCain’s record and behavior have done little to dispel.  (For a comparison of McCain and Bush’s platforms on human rights and civil liberties, click here.)

Barack Obama’s personal commitment to justice is clear.  He understands from his work in civil rights how justice is denied to many Americans.  He recognizes the importance of continued vigilance on social justice issues. I’m voting for Barack Obama because I see in him the hope that America can again become a beacon of justice, for all Americans, and for people around the world.

–Margie, mother of two who blogs at Third Mom

Reason #8: Modern Day Suffragettes

October 29, 2008

First click here, view this, and customize it and send it to your friends (this is seriously hilarious).

Then see below:

‘Nuff said. Vote Obama!

– Jane, a mother of two from Boulder who has MapQuested her way to the polls already.

– Joanna, a modern day suffragette who is campaigning mighty hard in Florida.

Colleen, mother of three from Boulder who plans to take her kids to the polls on Tuesday just to give them a little civic education.

Reason #9: He’s Even Better Live…

October 27, 2008

It’s one thing to watch Obama speak on TV or read his words in articles and blogs. It’s quite another to see him in person.

My friend Alicia has connections, so we were admitted into the small grassy plot immediately in front of the podium in Denver’s Civic Center Park Sunday morning. Obama has a relaxed yet commanding presence, even standing in front of a crowd of over 100,000 people that stretched all the way up the capitol steps on the other side of the park.

First of all, his occasional jokes add levity to the grave concern we all feel about this election, rather than contribute to the hail of lowbrow insults being lobbed by the McCain camp. He said, “McCain even called me a socialist, and then he claimed that my economic policies were just like George Bush’s…. seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!” Then he neatly segued, “Well, I can put up with nine more days of attacks from the McCain campaign, but you can’t afford to put up with four more years of failed policies.”

Secondly, Obama’s skill as a teacher lends a unique element to his speeches. This is what I want, indeed crave, in a president. I want an intelligent president who is knowledgeable enough on the issues to actually be able to explain what they mean–as Clinton was able to do–rather than fill speech lines with bluster and obfuscation–as you-know-who is only capable of doing.

I also greatly appreciate his acknowledgment that government policy cannot succeed in making the changes to education and health care that the country needs, but that individuals must be responsible and do their own part. This sense of a national community working together toward collective goals and holding the government accountable inspired what I thought was his best line of the day: “We need to rebuild our economy from the bottom up, not wait for it to be done from the top down.”

And finally, Obama’s appeal to think beyond ourselves to the next generations moved me to tears (OK, I am a bit hormonal right now…). It was something about the way he talked about parents who sacrifice so their children can go to college, and how they shouldn’t have to choose between paying their monthly bills and paying for their children’s healthcare. Even though my grandmother went to university, after the death of my grandfather in WWII she worked two jobs as a single mother of three throughout the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. She was always a model of frugality and generosity to me, and the thought of her then made me feel proud.

There was also that undercurrent at the rally that made me feel linked to those around me in witnessing an historic moment and silently promising to think about things in a new way. Being pregnant, I was tempted to chalk it up those hormones I previously alluded to, but I welcomed these emotions–what else inspires us to do better by our fellow human beings in the short lives we live?

Oh, and one more thing: When Obama first began his speech and the crowd started chanting, “Yes we can!” Obama immediately added, “Si se puede!” Music to the ears of Colorado Latinos, labor unions and workers (who were out in force publicizing their opinion on the ballot initiatives), and those of us who work in Latin America–a tribute to the late great Cesar Chavez who fought for the democratic rights of all workers and all people.


– Carol C., soon-to-be mother who lives in Boulder but imagines herself more a part of the global community than just a US citizen.

Reason #10: He’s Hip to Anthropology

October 26, 2008

Why is America so consistently dense to other cultures?

This (paraphrased) question was posed to Barack Obama by a former student of anthropologist Margaret Mead.  The forum?  Not a college campus, but a foreign policy discussion in New Hampshire in November 2007.

Obama answered the question in a refreshingly serious take on why anthropology might be important for foreign policy:

In a lengthy answer, Obama suggested that part of the problem is that this generation’s best and brightest were working overseas for Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong and not for the government. But then the fledgling Illinois senator offered an observation about understanding non-Western cultures that transcended the particulars of the question and spoke to a larger foreign policy perspective.

“You can’t wait to do some of this work until there is a crisis,” he said. “This is a chronic problem in Washington. It has to do with our 30-second attention span. You want to get to know a country and figure out what are the interests and who are the players. You can’t parachute in. Iraq is a classic example, and Iran now may be another example, where we are entirely isolated from these countries and have no idea what’s going on. We don’t have good intelligence on them. And we’re basically making a series of decisions in the blind. And that is dangerous for us.”

His mother, Ann Dunham, had an MA in anthropology from the University of Hawai’i, and when he was a young boy they lived in Indonesia where she did her research.

Obama told his NH audience that he was “hip to Margaret Mead.”

So, what might it mean for a US President to be hip to anthropology?

In the present, it might mean a newly rethought use of anthropology in US foreign policy.  Following highly controversial participation of anthropologists in Vietnam War intelligence (as part of Project Camelot), the US Army has recently begun working with anthropologists in the Middle East as part of their Human Terrain Team.

Anthropologists are highly critical of this program, but some argue for a real need for ethnographic voices in US intelligence and security operations–such as Jeff Bristol, a former army soldier and current anthropology student.  At any rate, discussions between anthropologists and representatives of the US intelligence community are now taking place with increasing frequency.

Where do we stand on this?

Hockey Moms for Obama skate locally, but think globally: we absolutely support the use of anthropology in better understanding the world.  We don’t, however, support putting anthropological knowledge to use against people during wartime.

When Barack Obama says he’s hip to Margaret Mead in reference, we presume, to this quote:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

We interpret this to mean that he believes in the power of the people, and that as instilled in him by his anthropologist mother, sees the value in all cultures (as opposed to the views, for example, of US Rep. Michelle Bachman that “not all cultures are equal”).  We believe he sees the value of anthropology in potentially redirecting the narrow, imperial, and at times xenophobic direction US foreign policy has taken under G.W. Bush.  Obama’s critique of Bush Doctrine is loud and clear.

So, here’s to a revitalized American built not on fear of the world, or being “dense to other cultures,” but to knowing, appreciating, and cooperating with our neighbors around the world.  And, here’s to some Anthropology 101 in the highest office of our country, to a humane US foreign policy premised on the idea that all cultures are created equal.

–Carole, mother of two and card carrying member of the Anthropologists for Obama club, Gunbarrel, Colorado