Fair warning: This is a political post.
For those of you who have made it known that you like my blog but you don't like when I write about politics, you're welcome to leave. But you're also welcome to stay.
Last night, I created a post in which I wrote "I've been writing Finding My Voice
for nearly three and a half years" and then quipped "(You'd think I'd have found it by now, eh?)."
But tonight, politically, I have found my voice.
This is what I have to say:
I fear for this country.
I truly believe that we are teetering on the brink of irreversible harm. Seven years ago, the Republicans, with their control of both the Legislative and Executive branches, got behind the wheel and stamped their collective foot on the gas. Problem was, the car was in Reverse.
And now here we are as a country with two wheels hanging over the edge of the cliff. And the only way we are going to survive as a nation is if someone grabs the steering wheel, slams the transmission into Drive, and guns the engine to get us back on solid ground.
It is no secret to recent readers of this blog that I support Barack Obama for President of the United States
But until now, I haven't expressed why.
Lately, people have been praising me, quite out of the blue, for my way with words. And I thank them. But tonight, I understand that my gift of expression requires that I express my beliefs.
I recognize that I may lose readers because of this post. I recognize that I may even lose friends. If so, I will miss them.
But this election is simply too important. There is simply too much on the line.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and their vote.
But I am baffled, truly, sadly baffled, by how anyone can support the Republicans in this election.
Bill Clinton has said (as have others, I'm sure) that the measure of a President is whether he leaves the country, at the end of his term, better off than when he took office.
It is a very simple metric for a very complex job.
And so I ask: Is this country better off than it was in 2000?
It is not. In any way.
The unemployment rate is rising.
The stock market is plummeting.
The housing market is imploding.
Last week, it cost me $60 to fill my car's tank. Yesterday, I was excited to see gas for $3.89 a gallon.
Oil was trading at $22 a barrel when Bush took office. This summer, it peaked at $147. Of course, I recognize that many factors influenced oil's precipitous rise. But what has the Bush administration done to begin to curb our dependence on foreign oil? Nothing. Moreover, it rewards Big Oil with massive tax breaks while Big Oil reaps record profits directly out of the pockets of everyday Americans whose paychecks can simply stretch no further. And in the end, huge sums of money, unfathomable sums of money, are enriching nations in the Middle East.
We have mortgaged our future to Saudi Arabia. And China. Let's hope they don't want to collect any time soon.
More than 80 percent of this country says that we're on the wrong track. Yet nearly 50 percent of polled voters say they'll vote for McCain. McCain, despite his fervent use of the word "change," is an agent of Bush. Why are so many people willing to vote for four more years of "the wrong track"?
The Republicans argue that Obama isn't qualified to lead, yet all I hear McCain talk about is his time as a P.O.W.
Let me be very clear: I have the utmost respect for our armed forces. And I cannot fathom the living hell a P.O.W. endures. But McCain plays the P.O.W. card over and over and over. I understand that the experience shaped him as a human being, but we don't need a president who endlessly replays the past. We need a president who tackles today's problems with an eye on the future.
What is the future of the United States under John McCain? I don't know. Do you know? How can we? He hasn't said. But he's been very vocal that Barack lacks the experience to lead.
In my view, the President of the United States is a leader but also a standard-bearer, the point around which the country rallies or the point around which the country divides.
Never before have I felt such division.
But there is no disputing that Barack has inspired not only a significant portion of this country but also a significant population of the world. As he said in Denver, "What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me; it's about you."
That is why we back Barack Obama. He has roused us out of our resignation. He has made us believe again in the promise of this country.
As for experience, yes, it's true that Barack is not a long-time Washington insider. And that is partly why I want him to be President. I also want him to be President because he has proven, time and time again, that his judgment is sound and true. Barack holds fast to his beliefs and his vision. For example:
Barack advocated a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
"No!" said the Bush administration.
And yet, today there exists a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
So what qualified Bush to be President?
Under Bush, Texas carried out more executions than under any other governor. That is his gubernatorial legacy.
What else qualified Bush to be President?
He was a C student at Yale.
I'm not saying this to boast, but I passed the Mensa entrance exam. In an academic sense, I am very possibly smarter than the President of the United States.
I don't want to be smarter than the President of the United States. I want the President of the United States to be smarter than me. Because he's the President of the United States, and by extension, the most powerful man in the world.
Of course, no one man can know everything, which is why a President has advisors. Yes, ultimately, the buck stops with him, but he does not need to know everything about everything.
Bush may be the President, but Rove and Cheney have shaped this presidency. And this country.
And what sorry shape it's in.
(Yes, I know that Democrats regained control of Congress in 2006 and that Congress enjoys the lowest approval ratings ever. But Democrats do not hold a large enough majority to override the Republicans who have dug in their heels. It's hardly the most conducive atmosphere to getting things done.)
I recognize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for Barack. Jen, one of my regular readers, is upset by Barack's position on the space program. Jen works for NASA. Her concerns are certainly understandable.
Barack cannot be all things to all people. Would that he could but he can't. As President, he'll need to prioritize and organize to implement his plans.
This country currently holds the most massive deficit in our history. Our economy is grinding to a halt. People are losing their homes. Companies are slashing jobs and declaring bankruptcy. Resolving our economic crisis must be at the helm of his list of priorities.
There will be a need for patience. All change cannot happen all at once.
But some change can happen every moment.
I have contributed to Barack's campaign. I have pinned Obama buttons on my purse since the weather was snowy and cold.
Tomorrow, I will visit Obama headquarters in Chicago and learn what I can do to lend a hand.
There are 60 days until the election.
Now is the time.
Yes we can.