Beliefnet
Progressive Revival

I became an Obama supporter because his candidacy and vision for America filled me with a feeling that no politician in my lifetime had inspired – hope. The hope that fueled my support for Senator Obama to be elected president was not sunny corporate optimism or dreamy utopian fantasy, but rather a desire to have a leader who would demand of me that I join with my fellow citizens and work together for the common good for all.  I remember the exhilaration I felt when Senator Obama delivered these words in Iowa after winning the caucuses: 

 

“This was the moment when we tore down barriers that have divided us for too long; when we rallied people of all parties and ages to a common cause; when we finally gave Americans who have never participated in politics a reason to stand up and to do so.

This was the moment when we finally beat back the policies of fear and doubts and cynicism, the politics where we tear each other down instead of lifting this country up. This was the moment. Years from now, you’ll look back and you’ll say that this was the moment, this was the place where America remembered what it means to hope. For many months, we’ve been teased, even derided for talking about hope. But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path.

It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.”

 

 The excitement we felt was occasionally derided by those who viewed it as inspired by a skillful orator whose promises were empty and devoid of solid policy underpinning.  But in that long primary we believed that our candidate offered something new that transcended normal politics and moved us into a future where our country could become whole again after the bitterness of the last eight years. We did manage to select Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for president.  And those of us who were in attendance in the stadium in Denver for Obama’s acceptance speech know that it was not a celebrity event, but a populous one which invited all who wished to come into the democratic process.  We became friends with anyone we happened to sit next to, we opened our hands and shared in that sense of solidarity that common purpose and common hope can bring.

 

That was only two weeks ago, but it feels like a long time.  In the past days I have felt my self getting hard, edgy and desperate as the election gets into full swing.   I resent very much the sleaze that the McCain camp is throwing at Obama and it makes my open hand tighten into a fist wishing to strike back, and hard, as many of my fellow Democrats are urging.  But in that very moment of revenge, I lose.  My loss is the very hope that got me involved in this election.  My loss is a betrayal of my candidate and campaign that originally inspired so many of us on the left, in center and, yes, even on the right.  Barack Obama’s greatness is in his honest desire and ability to bring people together, to inspire unity, to find solutions to seemingly intractable problems – not in his ability to inflict hurt and division. I am grieved that we have come to this moment in the campaign when the only solution to McCain’s attacks seems to be, as Paul Begala recommended on the Rachael Maddow Show a couple of days ago – “Attack back.”

 

I want to recommend something different.  Let’s remind people why Barack Obama was such a compelling candidate to us 18 months ago.  Let’s reclaim Hope as a rallying call.   Hope is a decision we make about the world and our perspective on it.  Let’s proclaim loudly that we continue to believe that unity will overcome division, hope will overcome fear, that America has an extraordinary future and that Barack Obama is the person who is best suited to lead us into this next century and to bring us together as a nation.   Let’s hold on and commit to hope as our compass.  And even if the election does not turn out the way I want it to this time, I sincerely hope that I will continue to represent my belief in unity, in common good and work for a better future for all in America.   I will vote my hope in November, and live my hope every day.  

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