Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Think I Understand You

(cross-posted at MyDD)

I've spent the last two or three months demonizing and vilifying the people around here who said they couldn't or wouldn't vote for Obama. I've been pretty harsh about it. I've claimed that none of them were true Democrats and said their motivations were purely self-centered. I've called them fools and Republicans. I've even called some of them racists.

Well. I'm here to issue an apology.

Not to the assholes who call Obama "Obambi". Not to the jerks who attack Michelle. Not to the racists who use Hillary as an excuse to oppose Barack. Not to the selfish idiots who are using her as a mascot for a "movement" which has little to do with anything beyond their own overgrown egos. Not to people like Harriet Christian. Certainly not to PUMA as a group.

But I'm here to apologize to people like Ann Price Mills, a Clinton delegate who was interviewed by CNN last night just after Hillary's impassioned, spectacular speech. She doesn't know me, but I've thought of people like her with disdain. Why? Because she doesn't know whether she can vote for Obama, and I've always considered that petty and self-centered. Sometimes I get a bad case of tunnel vision and see things in black and white: vote for Obama or you're not a real Democrat, support him or you don't care about your country, be an adult or act like a stupid child. My top priority is to make sure Barack and his family move themselves and their belongings into the White House this January. I don't have a lot of consideration for people who haven't dedicated themselves to accomplishing that goal.

But last night I saw that woman's anguish and her dedication. I saw her indecision. And it was real, not feigned. It wasn't born of bitterness or spite or hatred. And it wasn't what she said, but the way she said it. I could hear the suppressed sobs in her voice, and she touched me on a very deep level.

I heard her express her faith in Hillary, her trust that she could have pushed this country in a new and better direction:

I saw in Hillary what my potential future could be. I saw more than just dreams. I saw things that could be realities. In her eyes and in her words I could envision the reality of knowing that we could actually have green jobs instead of just talk, that we could have the image that we once had of a United States that was respected and that went out and did the jobs it was supposed to do on a global level. I saw the country that we strive to be and wanted to be. And she could have made it happen.
And then I listened to her agonize about her vote in November. She never said, "I won't vote for Obama." It was pure indecision, and it was clearly painful. She doesn't hate Obama. She's worried about his "inexperience". And even though I think he's got plenty of experience to lead this nation (honestly, is anyone ever fully "ready" to be president?), I respect that she actually has a reason to doubt her vote.

I will not vote for McCain. I will not vote for McCain. But for the first time since I was 18, and that's been a long time, I may be faced with something I don't want to have to deal with. I've never not voted. I am one of the strongest Democrats I know. I call up all my family and say, 'You need to get out the house, I don't care how much rain is pouring down, I don't care what's going on in your schedule, you need to vote.' But for the first time I'm faced with not being the person who calls them and says go vote. They may have to call me and tell me and remind me of how hard and how long we strived to get to the right to vote, the right to be here. Experience counts, I don't care what anybody tells you, and his resume is just. . ."

When Ann Price-Mills tells me she's a lifelong Democrat, I believe her. Her passion and sadness and worry touched me last night. And truthfully, I strongly believe that a woman like this -- with her heart obviously in the right place -- will come around by November and vote for our nominee. For some reason, I feel little fear that this lady won't show up to cast her ballot for Obama in a few months. And in the meantime, she helped me understand something I thought I'd never understand.

To those of you who hang out on PUMA sites and bash Obama and his family and the Democratic party, well, I have no use for you. But to those of you whose struggles are genuine and heartfelt, those of you who are conflicted and honestly don't know what "the right thing" to do is, I'm sorry for assuming you were nothing but selfish assholes. I wish you the best of luck with your struggles, and if I can help in any way, I'm here.

For the record, however, I still don't think you should be on liberal blogs trying to cast doubt on Obama. If you don't know whether you can vote for him, I would recommend sitting back silently, watching and reading, or contacting people privately. This is a site dedicated to electing Democrats, and constantly raising concerns about him helps no one -- it will not engender a positive or open-minded reaction from anyone. Maybe this was a bad time to write this diary, since everyone's talking about unity. But I thought a small dose of understanding might compliment that move toward unity nicely.


LakersFan said...

Nice article. Thanks.

I'm just like her. I'm that same person who calls everyone to tell them to vote. I will vote for Obama, but will I beg, plead and cajole my friends to get out to the polls? Will I make sure that no one I speak to is misinformed about the candidates' policy positions. It's hard to get overly enthused and want to go out on a limb for a campaign that has done very little to try to appeal to true blue and devoted Democrats like Ann Price Mills.

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