Move over Caroline. Step aside Ted. In what will likely have little to no discernible impact on the 2008 Presidential race whatsoever, it’s time for me to announce my endorsement for President. Operation Obama Bumper is underway:
Ah, come on, you can’t say you didn’t see it coming, can you? If in two and a half years of blogging I’ve ever given any of you the impression I was a lockstep conservative who always voted Republican, then I apologize for I have completely failed you as a writer. As I’ve indicated before, here and here for instance, I start thinking in the middle and work my way toward the edges pro re nata–as needed.
Ultimately, I’m a pragmatist, not an ideologue.
Some crazy, Deeply Southern law professor mailed the sticker to me in an envelope addressed to “Dr. Mike the Eyeguy.” That was a first for me.
Placing a bumper sticker on my car is also a first. It’s been on 2 weeks and so far, no thumbs up, no obscene gestures. But it’s early, and I haven’t ventured outside the Huntsville city limits yet. I think I surprised a few family members, but they’re dealing with it, just like they do all my midlife mini-crises. Eyegal had this to say: “I didn’t think we were bumper sticker people.”
And she had a very good point. I mean, for Pete’s sake, the kids were always on us about how we never put one of those soccer magnets on the Family Truckster or painted their names on the back window when one of them made an all-star team, so why a bumper sticker all of a sudden?
Basically, it boils down to what I would call The Great Need of the Moment. And to me, that’s a nimble, nuanced mind, a President who can recognize the paradoxical times that we live in (the need for “both/and” rather than “either/or” solutions) and who can lead a broad spectrum of Americans, from people of faith to hardcore secularists to everyone in between.
Frankly, I don’t care if the person with this skill set is to the right or left of center because we all know that our system ensures that you’ve got to lead pretty much from the middle these days anyway.
Having looked at this year’s candidates, it appears to me that Barack Obama fits those criteria better than any of the rest.
And there’s another reason too. I think politics is a little like working on eyeballs, and when I’m in the clinic, I try to keep it simple: If something’s working, don’t change it; if it’s not, then try something different. Sometimes I follow the book, sometimes I chuck it out the window. There are times to “stay the course,” and there are times when you need some fresh blood and new ideas.
Also, my independent streak is apparently in my DNA. My dad was a postal worker and union secretary who voted for John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon (twice) and Jimmy Carter. Had he lived to see the day, I’m pretty sure he would have voted for Ronald Reagan. His son did–twice. So, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Could I be wrong? Sure! And I don’t have any illusions that Obama, or any other candidate for that matter, can deliver on all the promises and rhetoric. Ultimately, I follow the Psalmist’s cues and don’t “put my trust in princes.” But the way I look at it, if you’ve got to live under one, you might as well go with somebody who has a keen intelligence and a good command of the King’s English.
Barack Obama has the rare gift to inspire, and looking around, it appears to me that the country could use a little fresh air as well as a fresh face to represent us abroad.
Of course, many will feel that they can’t support him on the basis of some of his liberal social views, such as his defense of the abortion status quo. And hey, that’s fine; I understand that, I respect that, and at the end of the day, you’ve got to follow where your conscience leads you.
But I still contend that if Obama was a Republican, had a less-funny sounding name, was a few pounds heavier, a war hero and wore a green suit with 4 stars on his shoulders, that conservative Christians would line up in droves to vote for him. All of a sudden, many of those “black and white” moral issues would become “complex and nuanced conundrums on which reasonable people might disagree.”
Ultimately, this may turn out to be a quixotic quest, but it’s fun to jump into the fray and throw my support behind someone. Is it my imagination, or is everyone much more engaged and excited this time around?
Someone asked me how long I was going to keep the sticker on. I said “at least through Super Tuesday” and perhaps beyond. Someone else asked, “And if he doesn’t get nominated?” Well, if that happens, who knows, there may be another bumper sticker waiting in the wings. The nice thing about this go round is there are potentially several candidates whom I might feel comfortable voting for.
But in the meantime, I’m looking forward to showing up at the polls come Super Tuesday and, for the first time in a long time, feeling excited about voting for a candidate–rather than simply holding my nose and voting against one.