Saturday, September 13, 2008

Politics, not as usual

I did something today that I never thought I'd do - I went campaigning door-to-door! I suppose you'd have to understand that I grew up in an atmosphere of politics - an atmosphere so choking that I've avoided it for the past 45 years. Oh, don't get me wrong, I vote religiously. And I have some pretty definite ideas about who I vote for and the choices I make. It's just that, when your mom lives and breathes it for all of your growing-up years, you kind of get the inside view - and it's often not very pretty.

So when Barack Obama said he was for change, I started to listen. Especially since a lot of politicians say that. And they say that it won't be "politics as usual." And they say that they're different, they're not beholden to the entrenched bureaucracy. And I always want to believe; God, how I want to believe! But I'm almost always disappointed, because it usually turns out that they aren't any different than the ones who went before them.

But something about Obama resonated with me. I saw young people starting to get excited, and I started to get excited, too. But I kind of held back, waiting. Then I read his book, The Audacity of Hope, and I got a little more excited. So I went to my local Barack for President headquarters and told them that I thought, maybe, I might like to help, but I'd get in touch when I got back from my cruise. And I kept thinking about it and talking about it, but not doing anything. (I'm pretty good at procrastinating.)

But on Monday of this week, I went to Obama's web site and registered to do door-to-door canvassing for him. I got a list of 40 names in my neighborhood. Today, I visited every one of those houses. There were about 10 people who weren't home, and of the others, only two refused to talk to me. Out of the 28 or so I spoke with, all but four are voting for Obama, but everyone was cordial - even those who are voting for John McCain! I feel good about having done this, and I'll catch the others tomorrow or early next week. But I proved to myself that we can disagree without being disagreeable. We don't have to be mean-spirited or spiteful just because our politics are different!

Do I think even Barack Obama can create immediate change in the country? No, but I think we have to make a start, and he's the only candidate that seems willing to speak to the issues and not make this a war of hatred and name-calling. And I think we have to start somewhere. Maybe by the time my grandsons are old enough to vote, we will have returned to some level of kindness in politics.

I hope more people will take the time to really investigate who they're voting for and make informed decisions, not party-line decisions. No one can do everything they say they will; our system pretty much ensures that. But you can choose to vote for the person whose ideals more closely parallel your own - IF you take the time to learn. Otherwise the overblown (and often deceitful) rhetoric, the hate emails that are circulating on the internet, and the loudest voices will determine our future.

If you care enough to vote - and I hope you do - then you should care enough to investigate the facts for yourself. November 4th isn't so far away.

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