Saturday, January 26, 2008

Campaign dispatch: Yes we can!

Today, I spent the afternoon with dozens of fellow Obama-supporters, calling prospective voters across the county in support of the Senator's campaign. Despite the often frustrating and difficult nature of political cold-calling, I had a wonderful time at the phonebank. There's something extremely rewarding about being part of group of people who are all passionate enough to sacrifice time and money in pursuit of a common goal. With purpose comes energy, and that energy was palpable today.

I met senior citizens excited to make the future better than the present and past they've known; I met a teenager who refused to let a minor thing (no pun intended) like being too young to vote keep him from doing everything he could to help his candidate (and you should have seen him--in one afternoon, this kid exhibited more dedication and professionalism than most of the professionals I've ever known!); I met people for whom words like "Hope" and "Unity" are not just sweet-sounding political aphorisms, but guideposts marking the path toward a new way of understanding our role as citizens of this country; I met them and joined with them, and it felt good.

In short, I'm proud of this campaign, and--no matter what the final outcome proves to be--I am grateful to have played a role in it, however small. Of course, it's a lot easier to say and feel all this when coming off of a big win--and, boy, was it ever a big win!--but, if nothing else, I think this afternoon's events will help inspire me to work harder in the days ahead.

But enough of me. Here are a few words from a certain Senator from Illinois:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The great need of this hour

Today, in celebration of Martin Luther King's life and legacy, Barack Obama delivered a speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church at which Dr. King pastored. I'll post an excerpt, but please--please!--go here and read the whole thing.
The Scripture tells us that when Joshua and the Israelites arrived at the gates of Jericho, they could not enter. The walls of the city were too steep for any one person to climb; too strong to be taken down with brute force. And so they sat for days, unable to pass on through.

But God had a plan for his people. He told them to stand together and march together around the city, and on the seventh day he told them that when they heard the sound of the ram's horn, they should speak with one voice. And at the chosen hour, when the horn sounded and a chorus of voices cried out together, the mighty walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

There are many lessons to take from this passage, just as there are many lessons to take from this day, just as there are many memories that fill the space of this church. As I was thinking about which ones we need to remember at this hour, my mind went back to the very beginning of the modern Civil Rights Era.

Because before Memphis and the mountaintop; before the bridge in Selma and the march on Washington; before Birmingham and the beatings; the fire hoses and the loss of those four little girls; before there was King the icon and his magnificent dream, there was King the young preacher and a people who found themselves suffering under the yoke of oppression.

And on the eve of the bus boycotts in Montgomery, at a time when many were still doubtful about the possibilities of change, a time when those in the black community mistrusted themselves, and at times mistrusted each other, King inspired with words not of anger, but of an urgency that still speaks to us today:

"Unity is the great need of the hour" is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome.

What Dr. King understood is that if just one person chose to walk instead of ride the bus, those walls of oppression would not be moved. But maybe if a few more walked, the foundation might start to shake. If a few more women were willing to do what Rosa Parks had done, maybe the cracks would start to show. If teenagers took freedom rides from North to South, maybe a few bricks would come loose. Maybe if white folks marched because they had come to understand that their freedom too was at stake in the impending battle, the wall would begin to sway. And if enough Americans were awakened to the injustice; if they joined together, North and South, rich and poor, Christian and Jew, then perhaps that wall would come tumbling down, and justice would flow like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Unity is the great need of the hour – the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it's the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.

I'm not talking about a budget deficit. I'm not talking about a trade deficit. I'm not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.

I'm talking about a moral deficit. I'm talking about an empathy deficit. I'm taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother's keeper; we are our sister's keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.

We have an empathy deficit when we're still sending our children down corridors of shame – schools in the forgotten corners of America where the color of your skin still affects the content of your education.

We have a deficit when CEOs are making more in ten minutes than some workers make in ten months; when families lose their homes so that lenders make a profit; when mothers can't afford a doctor when their children get sick.

We have a deficit in this country when there is Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others; when our children see nooses hanging from a schoolyard tree today, in the present, in the twenty-first century.

We have a deficit when homeless veterans sleep on the streets of our cities; when innocents are slaughtered in the deserts of Darfur; when young Americans serve tour after tour of duty in a war that should've never been authorized and never been waged.

And we have a deficit when it takes a breach in our levees to reveal a breach in our compassion; when it takes a terrible storm to reveal the hungry that God calls on us to feed; the sick He calls on us to care for; the least of these He commands that we treat as our own.

So we have a deficit to close. We have walls – barriers to justice and equality – that must come down. And to do this, we know that unity is the great need of this hour.

We need this man to be the next President of the United States of America--it's that simple.

Edit: C-SPAN has a video of the speech here, (though it looks like their servers may be strained by people trying to access it--and that's a good thing--because I keep timing out).

Further update - Here's the speech:

Friday, January 18, 2008

Obama and the SF Chronicle

The following is a fascinating discussion that Senator Obama had yesterday with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle.

On a related note, I've decided to put my money mouth and feet where, until now, only my intermittently-typing fingers had been. Yes, I've decided to volunteer for the Obama campaign in California, and they have--quite foolishly, I fear--decided to make me Captain of my local precinct. What this means is that I've been given a list containing the names and contact information of upwards of 1000 registered Democrats in my area, and my task is to call them and attempt to convince, encourage and cajole--politely, of course--them to support Senator Obama at the ballot box on February 5th. Great Googly Moogly--that's a daunting task if I've ever heard one, and I have no idea how to get it done! Thankfully, the Obama campaign offers training sessions for new Precinct Captains, and I'll be attending one tomorrow.

Politics is serious business, folks, and I have no idea what I'm really getting myself into. Nevertheless, I'm excited to do what I can to support something I believe in. Good luck to all the people caucusing in Nevada tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Debate Reaction

Two things I learned from tonight's Democratic debate in Las Vegas:

1. All three Democratic candidates are well-spoken, intelligent people, and I would be happy to cast a vote for any one of them (though I would be happiest, by far, to cast my vote for Obama).

2. Tim Russert is a tool.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dispatches from the club for Obama fanboys

Fair warning: convinced as I am that Barack Obama is, far and away, the best person to lead our country for the next four to eight years, I am going to be turning this blog into an unofficial mouthpiece for his presidential campaign. While I'm not exactly thrilled by the idea of playing the part of political shill, right now the upcoming election is the single most prevalent topic on my mind, and I don't realistically see myself writing about much anything else.

In keeping with that sentiment, I'd like to reproduce an insightful reader comment that I found at Andrew Sullivan's blog:
Ann Rice, in her endorsement of Hillary, called her "prophetic" for her health care reform efforts in 1993. Well, if derailing the viability of health care reform for a generation is prophetic, sure. Now she promises to repeat the same mistake. No matter how hard she works, does anyone think she'll convince Mitch McConnell to create a new welfare state program? Doesn't she remember Bill Kristol's memo calling for all out opposition. Sorry, but six years of keeping her head down in the Senate to rebuild her reputation is hardly the experience that will be needed.

Polarization's a bitch for liberals. Even if it's a "roll of the dice", Obama is our only shot at building a movement than can defeat polarization. He's doing it the old-fashioned way, asking people to work for change. It's hardly a sure thing. But, as Oscar Wilde wrote,

"A practical scheme is either a scheme that is already in existence, or a scheme that could be carried out under existing conditions. But it is exactly the existing conditions that one objects to; and any scheme that could accept these conditions is wrong and foolish."

We don't need to to change the leadership of polarized Washington, for which Hillary is no doubt the best suited of the Democratic candidates. We need to end polarization, and that requires a Democratic landslide that only Obama might achieve. So let's roll the dice.

That is simply brilliant rhetoric--turning the charge that an Obama presidency would be an inherently dangerous gamble so far onto it's head that it somehow becomes an inspirational call in support of his candidacy! I really, really wish I could do that.

Anyway, as is obvious by now, I've got some rather strong opinions about this election, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't love to hear what y'all are thinking as well. (And yes, that even includes any unfortunate souls who may be considering a Republican vote.) This is, afterall, our country; let's not forget what that means!

Edited to add: And just so there's no confusion, the Ann Rice referenced above is indeed the Ann Rice of cheesy vampire-novel fame.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Official 2008 Presidential Endorsement, part 2

Excellent choice, Iowa. New Hampshire, now it's your turn!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Official 2008 Presidential Endorsements, part 1

Dear Iowan readers,

After much careful thought and discussion--which, scurrilous rumors to the side, did not involve a blindfold, darts, and a bottle of cheap tequila--the editorial staff of A History of Histrionics has decided upon our picks for tomorrow's presidential caucuses. For the Democratic candidate, our choice is Senator Barack Obama. He is, we believe, the person most committed to enacting genuine reforms to our incontestably broken political system. While he may not have a great deal of executive experience, he has--along with a long history of public service--the mature intelligence, honesty, fair-minded vision and charisma needed to be a great leader; and it is our firm opinion that these are the characteristics that our next president will need to possess. With Obama at the helm, our country stands a reasonable shot at putting the nightmarish corruption and incompetence of the past eight years behind us in order to move towards a future more closely aligned to the ideals and hopes on which this nation claims to be founded.

On the Republican side, well, our only interest is in seeing the candidate with the least likelihood of success gaining the nomination. That said, the field is so anemic that choosing the worst of the lot has proved to be impossibly difficult; all of them seem so poised for utter defeat that we have decided to take the possibly unprecedented step of endorsing every one of them!

There you have it, Iowans. While we'd prefer that you vote the way we tell you to, we only ask that you reflect upon our endorsements with whatever degree of consideration that you feel they merit. Happy Caucusing!