Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Emotions of Today

I'm excited and giddy. I was proud to vote for Obama. I'm glad to be part of history.

It's not just about the first black president, although that's a huge milestone. It's about the conquest of hope over fear. I realize that sounds trite, that to Republican ears, it's just propaganda. But it's true. We're kicking out the man who ran as a uniter but acted as a divider, a man who seized the moment of unity after 9/11 to push for a war that was unnecessary and counterproductive.

We're kicking out the "if you're not with us, you're against us" guy and voting against the candidate who believes that there are "pro-America" parts of America and presumably "anti-America" parts of America. We're rejecting the team that divides America into "real" (i.e. Republican) and "fake" parts.

We're ridding government of people who think government cannot be effective and do their best to fulfill that prophecy. We're getting rid of an administration and a party that thinks talking to the enemy is a sign of weakness and that derides domestic opposition as traitorous and sympathetic to terrorists. We're getting rid of an administration that thinks habeas corpus and the Geneva Conventions are inconveniences. We're getting rid of an administration that authorized torture.

We're voting for the party of science rather than dogma. The party that recognizes a healthy economy requires regulation rather than one that adheres to extremist theories of laissez-faire economics. The party that didn't try to turn the justice department into a branch of the Republican party.

Barack Obama isn't perfect. He's opposed to gay marriage and supports faith-based initiatives. He's young and relatively untested. I'm skeptical of his push for more troops in Afghanistan. But he is smart and open-minded and willing to fight for people who need fighting for.

If he does nothing but roll back the previous eight years of tax cuts for the rich, disastrous foreign policy, and cronyism in government, it will be a huge improvement. But if he listens to the experts -- not the partisan "experts" as Bush did, but the real experts who follow the truth wherever it leads -- he might just be able to lead us through the economic meltdown and get us back on the right path. He might be able to disentangle us from Iraq and then, I hope, from Afghanistan. He will certainly make sure that literally millions of Americans will get health care they desperately need and otherwise would not have gotten.

But also he will restore our image in the world. Colin Powell said that "it's killing us" abroad that Americans have been calling Obama a Muslim and an Arab and implying that either one would disqualify a man from the presidency. Before George Bush, (many) people everywhere looked to America as a beacon of freedom and diversity and tolerance. Now we're more famous for war and torture and Guantanamo Bay.

But how many kids named "Hussein" are there growing up in Saudi Arabia and Iraq and Pakistan and the Palestinian territories who are going to see the U.S. elect a man named Barack Hussein Obama -- despite those Republicans who wield his name as a weapon -- and realize that all the terrible things their parents and teachers say about America are not true -- that we really are a land of opportunity and tolerance and meritocracy? And how many black kids have heard over and over again that they can be anything they want to be, but haven't been able to really believe it?

Republicans like Sarah Palin and Ronald Reagan have used John Winthrop's phrase "The Shining City Upon A Hill" to describe America. I love that (and am reminded of Judaism's notion of being a "light unto the nations") and I think we have that potential. The last few years have been a little darker and a little lower than most of us would like. Obama's election can makes us shine bright again.

These photos of Obama, by the way, are great.

30 comments:

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

This is why I think Obama's candidacy is unhealthy. Nobody should ever be excited or giddy about voting for a particular candidate. You're investing way to much emotion into a candidate that will almost surely let you down.

Oh, and you aren't "kicking out" Bush. The Constitution is.

Jewish Atheist said...

Nobody should ever be excited or giddy about voting for a particular candidate.

Why?

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

Meant to say, Nobody should ever be this excited or giddy about voting for a particular candidate.

Jewish Atheist said...

I don't see why not. It's important not to be blinded by emotion, but I don't see anything wrong with having them.

We've been holding our breath for 8 years as Bush did awful things IN OUR NAME and AS OUR REPRESENTATIVE. Now we have the opportunity not just to get rid of him (and his allies) but to put in someone who is basically his opposite -- and to make history at the same time. I think it calls for a little giddiness. I understand that McCain supporters can't share it, but I don't see it as a bad thing. Not at all. It's emotions like this that make America even possible.

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

And what happens when Obama decides not to withdraw from Iraq, decides to increase troop levels in Afghanistan, realizes there's no other option than to keep Gitmo open and continues warrantless spying?

Sales of anti-depressants are going to skyrocket within the first year of his presidency.

Jewish Atheist said...

And what happens when Obama decides not to withdraw from Iraq, decides to increase troop levels in Afghanistan, realizes there's no other option than to keep Gitmo open and continues warrantless spying?

Then we're all going to be disappointed. Is your argument that people should never get their hopes up in case things don't work out?

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

Then we're all going to be disappointed. Is your argument that people should never get their hopes up in case things don't work out?

It's going to more than just disappointment. It's going to be soul crushing considering the hype and hope that has been building for the last 2 years.

Sure I was bummed out when Bush agreed to steel tariffs and Medicare Part D, but I wasn't so emotionally invested in his Presidency.

Jewish Atheist said...

I don't know, I don't think people are really imagining 100% unicorns and rainbows. If he's a halfway-decent president, people are going to be fine.

Tigerboy said...

The Republicans are gonna get spanked!

And they deserve it.

This election will ABSOLUTELY be a repudiation of the last eight years of Bush Administration arrogance and incompetence. A repudiation of racism. A repudiation of greed. A repudiation of Texas-style, good-old-boy nationalism.

Hit the road, Dick Cheney! Hit the road, Karl Rove! We need to repair our relationship with the world.

McCain has demonstrated a shocking tendency toward incompetence, himself. Sarah Palin? Nice choice.

But, let us never forget the real reason why the Republicans never stood a chance in this election. The most reviled president since Richard Nixon, George W. Bush. Incompetent, arrogant, smirking George W. Bush.

After Mr. Obama wins this election, and proves himself a wonderful president and exactly what this country needs, I hope all those voters, the ones who just couldn't bring themselves to consider voting for a black man, I hope they, one day, will look themselves in the mirror and ask:

"Why was I so bigoted?"

You have every right to be just as excited as you are, Jewish Atheist.

It's a new day in America.

CyberKitten said...

I *so* hope Obama wins!

Ezzie said...

A lot of what LWY said. It's also interesting to note that you used not one actual presentation of how his policies work based on data.

And it's mind-boggling how much of this was just excitement about being rid of Bush, who would be gone regardless.

Jewish Atheist said...

Ezzie:

It's also interesting to note that you used not one actual presentation of how his policies work based on data.

The post is called "The EMOTIONS of Today." I'm not sure how wonky data-based policy analysis would fit in, exactly. :-) I've made countless posts and comments with more policy in the past.

And it's mind-boggling how much of this was just excitement about being rid of Bush, who would be gone regardless.

"Mind-boggling?" Bush has been an AWFUL president. And while he would be gone, McCain would probably keep a lot of his advisers, etc. He's not a big enough change. The whole lot have to be thrown out.

Tigerboy said...

"it's mind-boggling how much of this was just excitement about being rid of Bush, who would be gone regardless."

It's not just excitement that Bush will be gone.

It's excitement that the nationalistic, racist, greedy, militaristic, arrogant attitudes that he represents, as well as the nationalistic, racist, greedy, militaristic, arrogant people who share his attitudes, will summarily be shown the door.

It's excitement that so many Americans finally understand what a disaster has been this presidency.

Working-class people, finally, are understanding that Republicans are not their friends. Religion was used very effectively, by the Republicans, to convince poor people to vote for the those who would steal their money, and start foolish wars.

Mr. and Mrs. Working-Class, your Christian hatred of gays and Roe vs. Wade is not good enough reason to elect racist, warmongering, obsessive money-grubbers into positions of power. It will not work out well for your working-class bottom line.

Pigs do not share their scraps.

Neither will it increase your security. Having the whole world hate you is not a good idea.

Maybe Republicans will be taken seriously, again, when they get back to their roots.

Conservatives should be all about protecting the environment, not raping every square inch of the planet for profit.

Conservatives should be all about financial prudence, not spending trillions on optional wars because they hate Arabs and want to control their oil.

Conservatives should be all about respecting privacy, not trying to change the Constitution to discriminate against gay people.

Conservatives should *totally* denounce the use of torture. Why is it that Americans didn't raise a far greater hew and cry over that?

If Republicans ever return to their roots, which means getting out of the bed they're in with fundamentalist Christians, they might get back some respect.

asher said...

JA,
You don't have to believe in God..you got Obama.

At least you admit the only reason you voted for the One is
a: he's black and
b: he's a democrat
No thinking needed after that issue.

The way you wrote that he will undo all the terrible things that happened in the past 8 years sounds like that fine gospel song "there's a pie in the sky" or something like that.

You have to admit you'd never tolerate the things they found on Obama in a white man. They didn't have this much on Nixon when he was president.

Well, you can forget about the veto being used AT ALL and Pelosi Reid and the Pres can do the 3 stooges routine of :

Hello
HEllo

Hello

By the way, how do you explain these huge lines to vote? I mean the voter agents are usually pretty incompetent "are you sure G comes before H?" but these lines can only be explained by the true effectiveness of ACORN. I imagine my dead relatives had a ball voting today.

Tigerboy said...

The lines are long because the people crowding the polls are your dead relatives?

How about this:

The lines are long because people are excited about this election. I think that makes more sense.

Holy Hyrax said...

>The party that recognizes a healthy economy requires regulation rather than one that adheres to extremist theories of laissez-faire economics.

This is the biggest crap of the post. And its better to be part of a party of entitlement? That is mortage crisis CAN be put on their doorstep no less (probably even more) than the republicans? That republicans HAVE warned about the regulations. Stop being so blind by your partisanship.

Holy Hyrax said...

and you really think obama is a uniter?

when he says HE wants to be a uniter, what he really means is to be united under HIS value system.

Tigerboy said...

And Republicans have been so inclusive?

My tax dollars are going to help fund two wars I have never supported.

I have worked my ass off for 30 years and have never been able to afford a mortgage, yet my tax dollars are going to bail-out wealthy capitalists who made foolish, greedy, predatory loans.

I watched my father, a highly-decorated war hero, recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and several Oak Leaf Clusters, I witnessed my father's nervous breakdown, as he watched news reports of Nixon's escalation of that filthy, filthy war. I later watched Nixon resign in shame and failure, only to recieve a full and unconditional pardon from his successor.

During the Eighties, I watched my friends die, one by one, and I fed, and I bathed, and I changed diapers for my dying husband, while Ronald Reagan wouldn't even acknowledge the AIDS crisis.

I am a life-long atheist who has heard George H. W. Bush say: "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

I have worked my whole life in a country that will not allow me to marry the partner of my choice.

I have lived and toiled and suffered under the value system of Republicans. What about my value system, Hyrax?

It's time to live under Sen. Obama's value system for a while, because it is, apparently, also the value system of a majority of Americans.

Welcome to democracy.

The Candy Man said...

Congrats, JA. You posted a lot of good info on Obama.

This guy is the next Kennedy. True, he's wrong on gay marriage, but so is our entire parents' generation. Religion has confused them and failed. It's basically a failure of leadership on the part of religious leaders.

Luckily, the influence of religion on politics has probably been fatally wounded by our last president.

Random said...

"This guy is the next Kennedy."

Ye gods, but I hope not. I bow to no-one in my disdain for Obama, but at least it seems fairly obvious that he's both happily married and entirely faithful to his (admittedly rather scary) wife. Not to mention that the consequences for social harmony in the US if he were to be assassinated halfway through his are likely to be unpleasant in the extreme:-/

"Religion has confused them and failed." I'm not confused. I no more believe the state should be in the business of redefining marriage than in the business of redefining baptism or holy communion. I fully support civil partnerships, but marriage is a sacrament and should be respected as such. As for "failed" - marriage amendments passed yesterday in both Florida and Arizone, and it looks likely that California will vote the same way - if so, continuing the pattern that every single time when people are asked to vote on marriage they define it as a man and a woman. it's called democracy, it might be worth learning to respect it when it goes in a direction you don't like and start concentrating on winning the argument instead of short-circuiting it through the unelected courts.

BlackEyedP said...

Obama a glimmer of hope amongst hordes of backwards thnkers, stuck in a world that no longer exists. We take a risk by electing any President - we give them our vote and our trust to make our country a better place. I am placing my trust in Obama - that he will do his best to unite this country again, to set us on a new path and to improve our relationships throughout the world. We can no longer claim absolute superiority on the playground. It's time we stopped being the bully and all work together. Most importantly, I believe that Barack Obama believes in us, too...and that's PRICELESS. GOBAMA!

Holy Hyrax said...

>I have worked my ass off for 30 years and have never been able to afford a mortgage, yet my tax dollars are going to bail-out wealthy capitalists who made foolish, greedy, predatory loans.

and if there was no bailout you would be able to afford it? And as I see it, democrats were very supportive of it.

>I witnessed my father's nervous breakdown, as he watched news reports of Nixon's escalation of that filthy, filthy war.

As did Kennedy and Johnson.

>What about my value system, Hyrax?

What about it?

>It's time to live under Sen. Obama's value system for a while, because it is, apparently, also the value system of a majority of Americans.

It's time to live under Regans value system for a while, because it is, apparently, also the value system of a majority of Americans.

Welcome to democracy

Its time to live under Bush's value system for a while, because it is, apparently, also the value system of a mority of Americans.

Holy Hyrax said...

>It's basically a failure of leadership on the part of religious leaders.

Actually, its their success.....which is the reason you don't believe in them. At least get your facts straight.

Chad said...

I want to echo a bit of what LWY was saying. I'm glad that it's Obama over McCain and I'm glad that we have a guy that seems very intelligent. But it's dangerous to treat him like a messiah. He could do very very stupid things in office and people would be in denial about it because they believe he's perfect. That's what I'm afraid of - people's rational judgment will take a break in order to uplift their own euphoric feelings that Obama's existence gives them.

robert said...

JA,

As someone who (reluctantly) voted for McCain, I must say that your post was beautifully written. I wish our new president-elect only the best. I hope that he can truly be an agent of change.

Holy Hyrax said...

I think the word "change' needs to be retired.

As if any other nominee is not fighting for a change. Bill Clinton was offering change, Regan was, Bush, Kennedy, Coolidge, everyone.

Tigerboy said...

Hyrax:

Since you're such a fan of Reagan, I suggest you learn how his name is spelled.

Holy Hyrax said...

typos are my "thing"

Kylopod said...

I think the word "change' needs to be retired.

As if any other nominee is not fighting for a change. Bill Clinton was offering change, Regan was, Bush, Kennedy, Coolidge, everyone.


But you have to consider the context. When Bush ran on a message of change, it was legitimate to ask why we needed change at that point. The president at the time was popular, and the country seemed to be in good shape.

Reagan, Clinton, and Obama, on the other hand, were running in reaction to unpopular presidencies when the country seemed to be heading in the wrong direction, and so the message of change resonated.

Mike4Freedom said...

I went in to this election with the full knowledge that both major party candidates were terrible. They agreed on several bad ideas, most topically, the bailout and the Keynesian economic idea that printing new money (injecting liquidity) is the way to unfreeze the economy.

This is precisely the ideas that drove FDR and resulted in the longest depression in recorded history. If these idiots who run our country cannot learn from history, where these ideas were tried and failed miserably-we are doomed to relive the 1930s.

Bush will play the Hoover role and Obama, the FDR role. They did the same thing with the same sad results, yet we are taught that Hoover was the devil and FDR the angel. They were both idiots and tyrants that caused massive hardship and suffering.