Rebuilding my faith.

Friday, November 07, 2008

My father taught me my love of country. He always said that I was extremely lucky to be born into the United States. He valued the hard work of Americans and demonstrated it through a dedication to buying American products. He taught me the importance of helping our neighbors and most importantly, the value of voting. As a result, I have always been a liberal flag-waver.

But in the last few years, I had begun to lose faith in my country.

My crisis of faith isn’t due to the failure to elect Democrats. There are plenty of reasons for Republicans to rightfully win elections. I lost my faith when my people continued to respond to non-issues. I couldn’t help but be disappointed when voters responded to cultural, racial and class warfare instead of voting based on the best interest of themselves and their fellow Americans. Polls regularly showed that people voted for one candidate, when the other candidate better reflected their own positions on issues of the economy, education and foreign affairs.

Over the last few election cycles, it seems that a significant number of swing voters have based their votes on the superficial rationale of personality or baseless insinuations of character flaws. They’ve responded to charges of “flip-flopping”, boisterousness, and exaggeration. Some voters seemed motivated by fear of gays, Arabs, blacks, or other boogie men. Independent groups turned decorated war heroes into cowards and liars.

Voters couldn’t see beyond the rhetoric and see the damage happening to this country.

Yet, my faith is returning.

On Tuesday, my country elected a man named Barack Obama to be president. The victory of a Democrat does restore my faith, but not nearly as much as the actions of the people who worked to elect him.

We all expected racism be an ugly force in this election and it was. That said, the response to the racism was truly inspiring. Racist comments and voting behavior could have been brushed under the rug, but in this election, with so much at stake, white Americans confronted and battled racism in a way they likely never envisioned.

Richard Trumka, the Secretary Treasurer of the AFL-CIO took initiative and made several impassioned speeches on race. In each of his speeches, he spoke of a conversation he had the day of the primary in Nemacolin, Pennsylvania, Trumka’s home town:

"This woman walks up to me. I'd known her for a long time, and I ask her 'Have you decided who you gonna vote for?' "

"There's no way I'd ever vote for Barack Obama," the woman responded.

Trumka said he pressed her as to why. First, she said it's because Obama is "a Muslim." Trumka responded that Obama is actually a Christian.

Then, she told him Obama never wears an American flag pin on his lapel. Trumka told her that, too, is false, then asked her why she wasn't wearing one if that is such an important issue.

Trumka said he continued to push, until "her eyes dropped down and she said to me, 'Well, he's a black man.' "

Trumka said he told her to look around at their town, the mining community where they both had lived for so long. "And I said to her, 'This town is dying — literally dying.' "

"Our kids are moving away because there's no future here," Trumka said. "And here's a man, Barack Obama, who's going to fight for people like us, and you won't vote for him because of the color of his skin? Are you out of your ever-loving mind?"

These lines would always elicit great applause and really moved minds.

(Source: NPR.org)
About a week ago, National Public Radio ran an excellent report on the individual campaigners on the front lines. They showcased ordinary union members who pleaded and fought to elect Obama and pursued the votes of people who were openly opposed to Obama based on race. Some people were shocked to learn that long-time friends and co-workers, many who worked side-by-side with blacks, were racist. People argued. Some minds went unchanged, but many did. Friendships dissolved, but others were created. Older people, who never thought of electing a black man, voted for him. Many good people asked themselves about why they weren’t comfortable voting for Obama and upon introspection realized it was race that was holding them back.

In the end, people who were never directly confronted by racism or were never personally impacted by racism stood up and did the right thing at a time when many people would have folded. These are the people who restored my faith in my country.

14 comments:

Rickey Henderson 5:26 PM  

Good stuff Bob. More than the numbers hint at, the Obama campaign really did showcase some genuine passion and goodwill in this country. And it looks like it's made politics appealing for an entire generation of young 'uns too. Rickey can't help but feel like this is how people must have felt about the JFK Presidency.

Bob 5:43 PM  

Rickey can't help but feel like this is how people must have felt about the JFK Presidency.

Me too, and we aren't the only ones.

I was in an antique book store yesterday that also sells old political posters, etc. They had a run on Kennedy memorabila. One guy bought an old Kennedy poster for $250 to hang next to an Obama poster.

B Mac 7:17 PM  

I've been surprised at the extent to which everyone seems proud of America as a result of this election. Even people who voted for McCain for ideological reasons seem awed by the fact that America elected a black man.

Obama sounded good in his first presser today. I think we're gonna like this guy.

Bob 12:59 PM  

Obama sounded good in his first presser today.

You mean because he can actually put a sentance together that is over the third grade reading level? He's a smart guy compared to anyone, but damn Bush makes him look good.

Michigan also has great representation on his economic advisory team with both the Governor and Bonior.

steves 1:58 PM  

Michigan also has great representation on his economic advisory team with both the Governor and Bonior.

I was a little surprised at Graholm giving economic advice, since her background isn't in economics, nor is Michigan's economy doing well. I am still waiting to be "blown away."

B Mac 3:50 PM  

nor is Michigan's economy doing well

I think that's part of the reason she is there. Most of the country has been dealing with these issues for a few months. Michigan has been here for years. We've got more "game experience" in dealing with economic stagnation and a sieve-like job market than anyone else.

That, and the auto industry is next on the bailout-or-chopping-block list...

Sopor 4:14 PM  

Steves... I agree with you there. Pete and I were discussing this the other day at work (I don't know if y'all have caught on, but Pete and I work together). I think I can speak for him when I say we're downright ashamed and scared that Granholm is a member of Obama's Economic Advisory Board, seeing as Michigan's economy is SO HOT right now...

Maybe you guys can shed some more light on this for me? Why is she a good choice for this spot? Are we looking at a future cabinet position-holder? Am I blaming way too much of our states economic issues on Granholm?

I will tell you there's one economic issues in this state I do NOT blame on her, and that's the Big Three Automaker's problems. Detroit has, IMO, a history of NOT keeping up with the Europeans and Japanese on making efficient, enjoyable, desireable, and SELLEABLE automobiles. It should be no secret by my avatar that I drive a VW, and if I have my way my next care will be VW, Toyota, Honda or Subaru, maybe even a Mitsubishi (and yes, some of these ARE built in America!!)

Smitty 4:26 PM  

Maybe you guys can shed some more light on this for me

She is not there to give advice, per se. She is there to provide perspective. Michigan is the worst statge in the nation right now, I believe, but used to be the linchpin of America's economy.

Also, Granholm has been to Germany, Japan and the Middle East several times in the past yer. Each time, she comes back with at least 1 company pledging to move here. That said, it takes 2 - 3 years to get a company moved, set up and running enough to grab jobs that have been lost. Granholm has been a force to be reconed with across the country in terms of aggressively seeking jobs for her home state, and winning them.

GM/Chrystler is not her fault. It's a power-starved union and a lax management fault. GM loses 2,000 jobs, and Granholm, for one week's work, brings home 200 jobs. Tough to grow your economy when our historically-strongest companies keep screwing the pooch.

Sopor 4:42 PM  

Between you comment Smitty, and B Mac's last comment... this makes a little bit more sense now!

Back to the subject of Pride in America for it's choice in the election... I have a client in Australia who has been paying very close attention to our election. He joked that it has been covered so well in Australia that it might as well have been their election! This is a direct quote of what he said after I mentioned how proud I was of my country, and how much I respected Obama's leadership abilities (again, this is not necessarily my opinion, but that of a somewhat prominent Australian Insurance Industry businessman):

"Yes Obama had generated so much goodwill and never mentioned the word FIGHT once which is so different to McCain whose every second word was FIGHT. I think the world (not to mention the American people) is sick and tired of the US ‘ aggressive rather than diplomatic general approach to foreign policy and the way everyone has to FIGHT to maintain a decent standard of living. "

Sopor 5:08 PM  

"It's a power-starved union and a lax management fault."

Oh, and not to monopolize the conversation (this is what happens when I'm buzzed on Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout @ 5pm on a Saturday with nothing else to do...), but I could NOT agree more. Unions in general are a very sharp double-edged sword. While I certainly agree that "our boys" working the line in auto factories in Michigan need a certain amount of protection... I also believe that our Corporations have GOT to be able to remain competitive in a GLOBAL market, and some of our current unions are making it VERY difficult to do this! But on the flip side the unions cannot be a whipping boy for management to blame all their problems on!

Again to my point of making competitive automobiles... if "Detroit" could make a car that I thought could HONESTLY compete with the Priuses, Civics, Camrys and Jettas of the world, the unions would NOT be holding them back!

And, if Americans could get over their obsession with big cars that guzzle gas, the economy, environment, and TRAFFIC in this country could be in much better shape!!

B Mac 6:34 PM  

And, if Americans could get over their obsession with big cars that guzzle gas, the economy, environment, and TRAFFIC in this country could be in much better shape!!

And I would probably be able to reduce the number of times I scream "GET THAT GIGANTIC PIECE OF SHIT IN YOUR OWN LANE AND STOP DRIVING LIKE A JACKASS".

The correlation between that phrase and the irrational largeness of the opposing vehicle is quite high.

B Mac 6:41 PM  

Are we looking at a future cabinet position-holder?

Yes.

Am I blaming way too much of our states economic issues on Granholm?

Hard to say. I think in general, people give too much blame, OR credit, to the executive. Were Bill Clinton's policies THAT awesome in the mid 90's? Is George Bush THIS bad (wait, don't answer that)? An economy is much line a ocean-liner, and the president/governor is equipped with a kayak paddle to steer it.

steves 6:55 PM  

If she is there to provide a view as to what a crappy economy looks like and to lobby for help, then I am all for that.

Andy 9:28 AM  

Awesome, Bob. I agree. I really had less faith in America...especially some of the more rural parts. I still think there was racism, but it seems that many people got over that.

The Onion did a piece that talked about people hating the economy more than they hate black men. It was tongue-in-cheek, but wasn't completely off base. I think some people are just so sick of recession that they are willing to give anyone a chance that means change!

I agree with Rickey as well. My co-worker asked me why she should vote for Obama (she is a moderate GOP). I asked her who she would have voted for if she were alive for Kennedy vs. Nixon. She said Kennedy, and I told her this is the same election!

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