Today is the election. I’ve written quite a bit about the presidential election this fall. I’ve told people why President Obama should be re-elected from an economic point of view, from a foreign policy point of view, from a look at his record, and from a social justice point of view. But now I’d like to tell you why I voted to re-elect the President. To the degree an outsider can make a judgement call based on a person’s character I believe the president to be worthy of our respect and support.
Four years ago Obama portrayed an idealistic advocate for change. He was upbeat, charismatic, and articulate. He had a youthful appeal, a bucket load of energy, and a vision for our country. He faced plenty of nay-Sayers but most everyone in his camp knew that if anyone could accomplish such forward-looking goals, Barack Obama could! BUT never (in my knowledge of US history) has any president faced the kind of overt antagonism and concerted efforts to see a person fail as President Obama has seen from the religious and political right over the past four years (and especially since the last major election).
The man we saw at the Democratic convention, the President we saw during the debates, and the candidate we’ve seen through much of this election season is a much different man than we saw four years ago. He is humbler. He is battle weary. He’s been tempered by the pressures and responsibilities of the office. Yet, he’s held a steady course. He’s brought integrity to an office steeped in scandal, tarnished by incompetence, and marred by distrust. But, you won’t see that if you listen to FOX News or conservative talk radio. If you want to see it go abroad.
Obama’s vision for America’s future reaches beyond the immediate gratification policies offered up by most politicians and reaches back to a time when our leaders actually stood on principle, even when doing so was unpopular, even when it could cost them an election. Obama wants freedom and justice for all to mean FOR ALL. He doesn’t hate people who make money and he doesn’t want to reward laziness. But, he does expect us to understand that the people who are successful are not successful in a vacuum. Most of the time it takes a good education and a variety of opportunities. To be extremely successful takes some natural gifted-ness, a great deal of focus, and hard work from the individual. Yet most of the time it also requires the right connections. Even the best product ideas take team work, and networking to get started; designers, manufacturers, and promoters to be developed; and shippers, and sales people to reach the consumers. The people who make their money through investments need the “help” of others even more; they need people and businesses to “borrow” so they have something in which to invest. Then in order to make a profit, they need that person or business to be successful. But I’m straying back into economic reasons to support the President and this post is personal so I will leave that discussion for another day.
As I watched President Obama interact with his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, at the end of the Democratic Convention I witnessed the behavior of a husband and father, not a political figure posing for a photo op. When Michelle Obama introduced her husband at their last rally in Iowa last night and he came up on stage and embraced her. Their interaction was personal, not strategic. He took her hand, walked away from the mic, engaged the audience, and savored the moment–the last time he would speak as candidate Obama. It was a journey they shared together and and that moment was more than a political stop. I don’t deny politics were involved. I am only saying–for the Obama family–power, fame, control, legacy, money–politics was not the motivation.
I voted for Obama because I believe he wants for me and for my family what he wants for him and his family, not less, not more. I voted for Obama because I have seen him walk out the faith and values he talks about, a faith grounded in scripture and values focused on social justice. I voted for Obama because he doesn’t ask anyone to work harder than he is willing to work himself. I voted for Obama because he doesn’t take the credit for what others do, he explains what he believes needs to be done and tries to do it, he doesn’t paint pictures uglier than they are but he doesn’t shirk his responsibilities when things get ugly. I voted for Obama because aligning myself with a man of his integrity lets me sleep at night.