Well, why not? There are a quarter of a million Americans living in the
As it turns out, these people found me at precisely the right moment in the campaign. You see, although I am a 30-something, liberal, East Coast, passport-owning American, I am not ENTIRELY predictable. Specifically, I am not a Democrat.
If you are reading this blog then you are probably one of my close friends or family members and therefore you probably already know that for the past few presidential elections I have voted Green. You may have even briefly stopped talking to me because of it.
But the Obama UK folks found me about 12 hours after I finally got fed up enough with the Republican campaign tactics (Karl Rove, is there any chance you are reading this…) that I was inspired to CHANGE MY VOTE to Obama.
My reasons for choosing Obama this time around may be different than some other former Green voters who will also be falling back into line this year. Yes, the world is more screwed up than anyone could have ever predicted Bush would make it, and this certainly makes some people more willing to buy into the lesser-of-two-evils approach to voting. And yes, though Obama is basically another centrist Democrat he is somehow qualitatively more palatable to many people on the Left than Gore or Kerry ever were. These factors are not insignificant to me, but they are not what changed my thinking.
What changed my thinking is fear. Or more specifically, the politics and the language of fear. By now we are all so familiar with the eye-rollingly transparent Republican talking points that attempt to depict Obama as “The Other.” A terrorist sympathizer. A foreigner. A Communist. A person who just doesn't feel the same way about
The worst thing is that some people seem to be buying into it; we keep hearing about ugly scenes at campaign events, hearing it on the radio, and reading it on the internet. It’s getting nasty. But is it really so hard to understand those who lash out? Of course they are responding to the language of fear – they are afraid! Afraid for their jobs, and their houses, and their security – all of the things that have (ironically) been put in jeopardy by the policies of the past eight years. And now they have been given a platform and practically invited to act on those fears. These actions may be desperate and irrational, but they are there and they need to be stopped.
In my day job I try to teach young people to recognize the roots of intolerance and challenge them on a personal level. History teaches us that prejudice does not just magically appear in societies. It is planted and cultivated and nurtured. And it is accepted because it is subtle and people don't even realize they are accepting it.
I feel like this election has been turned into a referendum on fear and xenophobia. Are you willing to tolerate a campaign of whispers and suggestion against a man simply because he is outwardly different looking, or are you not? Rarely does the act of challenging prejudice come in such a tidy package. Normally it's an awkward conversation stopper. Normally you risk getting your ass kicked. In this instance, it is as simple as punching a chad. Thank you, Republicans, for making it so easy on me.
So, yes, I’ll say it: I suppose I am voting for Obama because he is black. Not in the affirmative-action sense, or in the “wouldn't it be nice to elect an ethnic president” sense (although it would be), but in the sense that I have become a single issue voter. I hate racism, and voting for Obama is precisely the thing that racists hope that I will not do.
And even though I would like to see the Green Party reach the 5% threshold needed to qualify for Federal matching funds, (which I have a much more direct impact on than I do on Obama’s election) this ultimately is not as important to me as sending a message to all of the people screaming racist insults at campaign events and posting them online. I want Obama not just to win, I want him to win big, so that no one can question his legitimacy and so that it is as clear as utterly possible to the racists that their views are on the fringe. That they lost, and that their ideas about what is “American” and what is not are not ones that are actually shared by… Americans.
Put simply, I am voting Obama to say, “f—k you” to racism.
When Obama wins, he is going to have a lot to answer for. Some of his policies suck, and I look forward to joining in criticizing him when it is needed. He seems like he’ll be more receptive to it than Bush was anyway.
Symbolism and sympathies aside, his election will have a positive impact on my quality of life as well. I’m not talking about taxes or the economy here. I am talking about being able to live and travel as an American abroad, and not be embarrassed about it. I don’t want to have to explain any more that I am American, but not THAT KIND of American, every time some one says to me in broken English “
I read in Time magazine that here in the
Man, so do I.