In 1992, my mother and I were watching the election results roll in late into the evening. By about 10pm, Bill Clinton was declared the new president-elect of the United States. Mom and I turned to each other and agreed that we felt very good about the future, that it was somehow secured in this election. Despite the Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment, I still believe we were right. Those eight years were rather good under Clinton’s administration.
Ironically, I don’t think this will happen under another Clinton. Bill Clinton had an amazing ability to draw people to him, to exude a charismatic sense of hope that really made me feel like everything would be all right. Hillary Clinton, sadly, just doesn’t do that for me. In any other election season, I’d appreciate her brass tacks, all-business approach to Democratic policies. But she just doesn’t resonate with me where it counts – in the heart.
I expect my Democratic candidates to care about the common person, to promote fair general welfare policies and work toward diplomatic solutions rather than militaristic movements. But I also want someone who will inspire me. I’ve listened to speeches delivered by President Kennedy. His inaugural promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, aside from being a favorite geeky moment, had an air of old-fashioned can-do spirit, the same kind of spirit espoused by Eisenhower and both Roosevelts. Barack Obama’s speech at the democratic national convention in 2004 was so dynamic I had to download it and watch it again and again. During the election season, I have listened to that same message of hope and inspiration and I genuinely feel this country needs eight years of that. Even here, here is being likened to Kennedy, but to me he also sounds like a young Bill Clinton, a man who saw a bright, beautiful future for America and strived and succeeded to make it a reality.
Let’s for a moment assume I were not a registered Democrat but had, instead, turned to the other side. In all honesty, there’s only one man who could make that happen, and he’s the current front-runner for the Republican nomination. John McCain greatly disappointed me when he suddenly toed the party line and kowtowed to the Bush administration to prove that he’s a “true” republican. His lack of conviction during that period still irks me. However, I still believe in the man. He has cross party lines to bring us the McCain-Feingold Act supporting campaign fundraising limits and the McCain-Kennedy Act for fair immigration policy.
Eight years ago, that bastard Bush lied to the American people and said he was a “uniter, not a divider.” McCain – the man Bush’s people dared called unpatriotic and traitorous, an act I have never forgiven him for – has proven time and again that he is the true uniter. He is a man who does not see compromise as weakness, but genuinely believes in it as a fair diplomatic solution. Henry Clay was known as the “Great Compromiser” and one of the greatest senators in American history. There was a time when compromise was not the dirty word it is now. While I believe in standing strong to one’s courage of conviction, I don’t believe it makes good public policy.
McCain has the experience and record to prove that he stands not for ideology, but for what is right for America. He favored the recent surge of troops, an idea just about every Democrat despised but now must grudgingly admit seems to be working. But he also stood against the use of torture in our interrogation of suspected terrorists, certainly a topic with which he is intimately familiar (an side: Can you believe the balls Bush must have to admit to our use of water boarding then tell McCain to his face that we don’t torture? Un-fucking-believable…)
So tomorrow – Thuper-Duper Tuethday – could very well harken the greatest election season I have seen in my lifetime. If this becomes a McCain-Obama race, we will no doubt witness one of the most inspiring campaign seasons since the 1960s. With McCain’s “Straight Talk” and Obama’s inspiration, I think we’ll have an amazingly exciting race ahead of us. If Barack wins, he’ll be my man in November, unless he screws up royally (Note to Obama: ditch the handlers. They KILLED both Gore and Kerry. You’re better than they are anyway). If McCain and Clinton win, however, I’ll admit to you now that I’m not sure who I’ll vote for in nine months. It’s entirely possible that I may vote Republican for the first, and probably only, time in my life. Forget the Reagan comparisons – Reagan’s only strength was in facade – McCain could bring us back to the Eisenhower days, when America was running full speed at an economic peak and we genuinely believed we could do anything.
Only McCain and Obama could end the streak of fear that has marred this nation since 9/11. Bush, for all his rhetoric, has done a tremendous amount of harm to the American psyche, and I believe history will crucify him as one of the worst presidents this nation has seen. Either McCain or Obama could rise above all that and restore this country to greatness. I believe in the power of a democratic system and I believe our freedom gives the American people great strength. I also believe that both McCain and Obama share these views and will do what they can to restore our strength and make this country great again, not by fear or intimidating our adversaries, but by calling on the better nature of the American people who, at their heart, are compassionate and willful and fierce in their independence. This is not a country led by a few, but one shaped by many. It’s time we put someone back in office who respects this, who actually loves the American people and believes in them.
My mother and I had to wait until November of 1992 to feel good about the direction of our nation again. I believe that tomorrow, God and the American people willing, I will witness that same glimpse of hope again. Tomorrow, I will once again experience the feeling that the coming eight years will be wonderful.