Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Why Obama works for me

In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically.

I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.

He can, and will, work with people that I would have written off long ago. He does not have the black and white, friend versus enemy mindset that I am somewhat ashamed to admit I carry with me. I have a very hard time saying "Well, you did behave despicably when you tried to get me fired/ sabotaged my career/ broke into my e-mail/ betrayed a decade of friendship but I can recognize that you area a very talented/ otherwise honorable/ hard worker/ clever and insightful person who still has much to contribute." Once I've been burned, once you've shown me the ugliest aspects of your nature, it blots out most everything else for me. While I'm relatively comfortable with that as a personal philosophy, I recognize that it's a terrible trait for a national leader. Obama gracefully steers clear of that trap and I have profound respect for his ability to do so.

I had some vigorous discussion last night with a couple of saddened Clinton supporters. The Clinton campaign really turned me off in the last few months, where before I was much more neutral about Clinton and willing to throw in with her if she won the nomination. The question was raised about getting her into the VP slot to "unify the party" and whether that was even possible. Some at the table felt it was obvious that Obama and Clinton don't like each other. Others felt that liking each other isn't necessary (see Kennedy/LBJ). Were I in Obama's shoes, I would not be able to put aside my suspicions and lingering bitterness about the primary campaign. Thankfully, Obama is in Obama's shoes. I really do think he can work with Clinton going forward in any number of ways. Whether he and his people decide Clinton as VP is the best way or not, I believe he can and will take that positive attitude and move ahead with it.

With that in mind, I'm going to try to set aside my own bitterness where some people area concerned (both in the political arena and in my own life). Last night I was reminded, while talking to old friends about even older game industry grudges with a guy who screwed a swath of people across the game industry before flaming out spectacularly, that it's okay to let it go. As I said to my friend, "Well, if you're not pissed at him and you're one of the guys he actively screwed over the most, who am I to be mad?" If Obama isn't going to be bitter and vengeful about the attacks on his character and the way he's treated on the national stage by would-be-friends and certain foes, I'm pretty sure I can get over it, too.

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I caucused for Obama today. Our meeting place was the local public school a few blocks from our house and as we went out onto the street we could see dozens of people converging on the school. Waiting at the stoplight with a crowd, we could hear people talking about hos they'd never been to a caucus before, how exciting it was to see so many people out, that kind of thing. Obama supporters were out in droves.

When my precinct went off to debate we were so large a group we had to be shuffled off into a spare classroom. We had almost 80 voters and there many small children in the room who came along with their parents. Some of the hard core political activists from the neighborhood, who go to all the community meetings for anything, were saying that the last caucus they managed to get about 15 people to show up. After a couple of false starts and many impassioned speeches in favor of candidates, we ended up with 56 votes for Obama, 19 for Clinton, 1 for Gravel (as some sort of weird protest vote?) and two undecided. I stayed around for the whole thing, intending to offer myself as a delegate but the next two meetings I would have to attend as a delegate conflict with planned trips (like GTS) and I couldn't in good conscience sign up knowing I couldn't attend.

I'd like to say it was exciting. I guess it was, in a way, but the whole thing was also crowded, noisy, a little disorganized and confusing (especially with so many voters in our area for whom English is not a first language). There was also the bizarre opening with the Pledge of Allegiance, the mandatory reading of the Democratic Party's official statements and pleas for donations, and the outrageous claim that "the Republicans have filibustered" a record number of bills since the Dems gained majority. That last claim really bugged me, because I know it was meant to fire up the crowd to be active in Democratic election campaigns this year but I think it was really dishonest. The Republicans in Congress haven't actually filibustered, the Democrats have handed them those "victories" by agreeing to roll over and give up on anything that didn't have 60 votes. Sorry, but I hold the Democratic leadership responsible for that! Republicans threatening a filibuster? Make them DO IT. Bet your life there wouldn't have been 90+ bills "defeated" if they'd actually had to pull off a filibuster each time! Hell, these were the guys who so strenuously complained about having to put in a five day work week when the Dems took over!

Ahem. Anyway. About the caucus.

In theory you could debate issues and try to convince people to switch to your candidate at the caucus, but what I saw was that people came out because they already knew who they were going to support and they were not interested in being swayed. The undecided chick in our room said she'd heard nothing at this meeting that would have helped her decide on a candidate, despite people wasting about an hour trying to persuade others to their side. What I did see was an overwhelming turnout in favor or Obama. Several of the Clinton voters who spoke up for her prefaced their support by saying their choice was very close; one woman was leaning Obama but voted Clinton to "keep the national dialog going" and Clinton's one strong supporter in the room is someone who knew her personally and has worked closely with her in charity work over the last 40 years. Obama supporters were gleeful, excited, engaged, energized. Many of them had been at yesterday's rally. The Obama people ran out of stickers/buttons/literature to hand out to attendees before things even got started. The experience was interesting, though I have to admit that I would much prefer to just mark a ballot and be done with it.

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