Monday, October 20, 2008

On The Eve of Change

“In this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.”
— Robert Kennedy, addressing a crowd on the news of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

In two weeks, this nation will be at a crossroads. Will we choose the path of more of the same failed policies and ideology, namely fear, hatred and division; or will we choose change, hope and inclusiveness, putting the country back on track and on the path to a better future not only for ourselves, but for our children? Will we choose to believe ourselves to be no better than we are right now, or will we choose to believe that change is possible, and that together we can do and be better? If we choose the former, then we have not learned. If we choose the latter, then we will have acted upon one of the fundamental principles of our nation, the power to say, “no more” and change course. Insanity by definition is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If we elect McCain/Palin then the message is clear. We will have chosen insanity and more of the same misery that the last eight years has wrought. If we choose Obama/Biden, then we have learned and we have chosen hope, change and a core belief in ourselves.

The choice could never be more clear. Two recent events come to mind that demonstrate the importance of this election. One: in September the Obama campaign raised a staggering (and impressive!) $150 million dollars. I can say with 100% certainty that those contributions were not made by two people with $75 million each. What does $150 million dollars in one month say? Quite simply it says people are so hungry for change and true, inspiring leadership that they’re willing to dig into their piggy banks to make it happen. Two: for the first time since 1964 a democrat is poised to win Virginia. Is this due to a shift in demographics of a particular state? Partly. What it says, however, as clear as a fog horn on a pea soup night is that the people of Virginia are tired. Tired of the politics of fear and division. Tired of having their life savings vanish. Tired of an administration that cares more about Wall Street’s financial health than theirs. Tired of another foreclosed home. Tired of coming home to tell family that the job is gone. Tired of choosing between health care and food on the table. In 2008, Virginia is indeed the bellwether of a country in desperate need of a course correction. The country, to quote Howard Beale from “Network,” is “mad as hell, and it’s not going to take it anymore.” The country is also crying for help; and their cries are being met on the republican side by the tragedy that is the McCain/Palin ticket, with half truths, deceit, arbitrary decision making, and the politics of fear.

The McCain campaign, in their clever and not so subtle ways has worked hard to spread hate, bigotry, divisiveness and outright falsehoods in the name of winning an election. John McCain asks, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” What the country should be asking is, “Who is the real John McCain?” Is he the John McCain of 2000? A principled man, who could rightly then claim the title of “maverick?” Or is he the divisive, “scorched earth” John McCain of 2008, who would rather fan the flames of bigotry, deceit and false doubt in order to win at all costs rather than lose honorably? My father tells me such “dadisms” as “always to take the high road,” “when in doubt don’t,” “what your gut is telling you is usually correct.” Apparently these are dadisms that have been lost on John McCain. When the opportunity has arisen to take the high road, John McCain chose the low road. When John McCain should have heeded to doubt, he did not; and when John McCain should have listened to that little voice inside, he ignored it.

I can thank John McCain and his sinking Titanic of a campaign for one thing. John McCain in all his bitterness and his embrace of a negative campaign has made us take a long, honest look at who we are and where we want to go. As the Robert Kennedy quote at the beginning of this posting says, who are we? Where are we going? What do we want to be? Isn’t it time to take a look at ourselves and have the courage to face the honest answers? Has this country become so bigoted and racially divided that we can’t see the forest of open-mindedness, inclusion and tolerance for the trees of bigotry and division? Will we deny the superior presidential candidate his eagerness to lead with honor, openness and dignity simply because of the color of his skin? Are we so blinded by our bigotry and fear of change that we are willing cast rational thinking aside and bang our heads against the wall for another four years. Another four years of spiraling, out of control debt? Another four years of a war we didn’t ask for? Another four years of “me first?” Another four years of the same failed policies and backward thinking that only serves to isolate us from the rest of the world more and more?

On November 4 we can make a difference. The question is, will we have the strength and character to rise above our differences to pursue the greater good? The choice is ours.

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