In the weeks leading up to Election Day, I spent a fair amount of time drafting what I planned to be an email that I was going to send to all of my friends, but particularly to my Republican friends, urging them to vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. As the appeal took shape and form, it became apparent that while I did cover the bases pretty well as to why I thought Barack would be an extraordinary, transformational leader, much of what I was writing was essentially a rant against the Republican ticket, particularly Sarah Palin. I decided against sending the email.
But that was then and this is now. For the next couple of posts, I want to reconstruct my recent thoughts about this past election. I am beyond exhilarated. I feel like I won a gold medal at the Olympics. I feel really, truly terrific about Barack winning. But I shake my head when I think he could have lost.
Here is what I want to say, and then I’ll move on:
1. Let me be clear: I don’t love everything about Barack Obama. I am disturbed about the Obama’s attending church for 20 years where Reverend Jeremiah Wright was the pastor. I have tried to get it –tried to understand it from the perceived vantage point of a older African-American who has experienced much racism and difficulty in his life and is compelled to vent this anger while preaching—but I can’t. Barack and Michelle should have moved to another church with a pastor who was far more tolerant and inclusive.
Other things I don’t like about Barack and the Democratic Party? Well, people who know me well probably know that I’m about as anti-union as you can be. Why? For starters, can you say ‘U.S. auto industry?’ When we were in Denver at the Democratic Convention, the ‘pro-union’ presence was huge and one of the few negatives of an amazing trip, highlighted by a magical and patriotic day at Invesco Field. To cut to the chase, the whole ‘entitlement’ vibe of many Democrats, past Democratic platforms and legislation is one of the primary reasons why Republicans solidified their base over the past 20-30 years.
2. I had a hard time deflecting the argument that he has been a ‘mediocre’ Senator. While he had been spending a lot of time running for President in his first term as Senator, I sure wish he had more experience under his belt sponsoring legislation and getting things done. Inexperience was a truly valid argument to make against his candidacy. And yes, I also wish Barack had more ‘executive’ experience. As a business guy, I just have a bias toward politicians who have had some experience in corporate mainstream with direct involvement in large budgets and four wall accountability.
3. But now here’s the deal that closed me: the guy is smart, smart, smart. He surrounds himself with wicked smart people. I got a real up-close sense of this when I went to Chicago and met with David Plouffe and Jon Carson. He works hard to gain consensus. Barack is even-keeled, which I really like. Measured, thoughtful and and a 'big tent’ guy, something we haven’t seen in the past eight years with our current President. As I was getting to know people in the campaign, I never got the sense he was going to go 'left’ if he won; to the contrary, I keep hearing how far left liberals are going to be somewhat disappointed with how 'moderate’ the Obama administration is going to be. Barack oversaw the most impressive, organized, unbelievable presidential campaign in the history of the United States. It competely blew away the competition. He recognized the value of organizing communities. To those who ridiculed his previous roles as a community organizer: you guys are idiots. Take back what you said and re-group for 2012! You embarrassed yourselves.
4. And then there’s the 'magic’ when you hear him speak in person, like we did on four separate occasions during the campaign: Austin, Denver, Milwaukee, Chicago. For starters, the crowds are multi-generational and multi-ethnic. It was so fundamentally different than the competition. It just makes you proud to be part of the movement. And to be an American. I’ve never experienced anything quite like this in my life. This guy is will be an amazing, transformational leader. He will lift our stature in the world and we will all benefit from it.
5. If you took the time to really, truly get into Barack’s website and read about his positions, you will see that they were extremely well presented and thought out. Obviously I was attracted to most of his positions; but this is not the point I am trying to make. Barack is a very thoughtful, articulate guy who really understands what’s going on in the world. He truly has a worldly view. Intelligence and temperament matters.
6. From all accounts from people who know Barack, he posseses extraordinary persuasion skills. If you stop and really listen to him, he is far more of an accomodater. Unlike what we’ve had the past eight years, Barack is willing to compromise. He reaches out to find middle ground. Not 'Sean Hannity’ middle ground, mind you, but 'America’ middle ground.
7. Not to be underestimated, particularly in light of who ran for VP on the other side: I am at complete peace with Joe Biden being President of the United States should the need, God forbid, arise.
8. And perhaps most exciting to me about Barack being President? I am deeply drawn by Barack Obama’s call for change and his immense faith in the power of ideas. And the possible. This attraction is what separates Dems from Republicans. Republicans just don’t get the concept of the power of ideas. They start from a place that’s more like “Show me the money.”
OK, this is why I am so fired up about Barack becoming our next President. Next: why I was so fired up about Sarah Palin not becoming our next Vice President.