Monday, October 20, 2008

Politics Monday: Experience

I was talking with a good friend this morning, someone I admire and genuinely love, but with whom I rarely discuss politics. He's an Iraq war veteran and although I'm opposed to the war it would not be respectful of his service and the sacrifices he's made to argue my opinions with him. He left his home and family to fight for something he very much believes in and I am in awe of his duty. I sat at home, watched the war on television or read about it, debated it from the safety of my living room or on the phone with friends while he was actually there, unable to turn it off, put it down or hang up on it. And although we have differing opinions he knows how high my esteem is for him and how grateful I am for the decisions he's made.

One night last Summer, sitting on his patio sipping a beer and listening to the crickets hum in the rose bushes in his backyard, we engaged in one of our few, brief political discussions. He told me the reason he could not vote for Barack Obama was that he lacked experience. It was an argument I'd heard many times before and the only response I had was to say that George W. Bush didn't have any experience either and that he'd been so cavalier about his time with the Texas Air National Guard that to this day we're not sure whether he ever fulfilled his duties there. But, I pointed out, Obama is a man who will surround himself with other educated and experienced people, that he would not be brash and arrogant in his decision making.

This morning on the way to work I mentioned that Colin Powell had finally endorsed Obama on Meet the Press. The news caught him by surprise and for a moment I think he believed I was mistaken. He made me repeat the name. Yes, I told him. That Colin Powell. The General. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Secretary of State.

He was shocked but asked questions, wanted to know more about what Powell had said. I explained that he disagreed with the GOP's direction, did not have faith in McCain's economic strategy and doubted his choice in running mates. I also mentioned that several weeks ago General Patraeus had discussed the strategy in Afghanistan and without endorsing him, clearly stated an opinion that more closely resembled that of Barack Obama's than it did Senator McCain's. My friend realized that in one fell swoop, Powell's endorsement and Patraeus' strategy had effectively destroyed the "no experience" argument.

I have no idea whether my friend will vote for Obama; that's not the point. The point is that because I was informed and had not given up on the election in these last crucial weeks, I was able to make him pause and think. I did not expect to have the conversation and I certainly didn't think there was anything I could say that would change his mind, but he admitted he had some studying to do, and that's all I could hope for. And I hope that each of you, no matter where you are or how many political commercials are bombarding you (I live in Colorado, and believe me, all I see are political commercials!), you will take these words to heart. We are too close to think we have it in the bag. Now, more than ever, we have to fight, harder than we have over the course of the past several months. We have to fight for the uninsured, for the veterans and the soldiers still serving, for the poor and disenfranchised. We can not make the same mistake we made four years ago. We owe it to them. Research, read all you can, take the videos off this blog and send them to everyone you know. Urge them to forward them along. If you have a blog you must use your voice, no matter how small or how off-topic you think it is, to speak up for what you know is right. I challenge you to get involved in whatever way you can. With two weeks remaining, every moment counts!

LATE BREAKING NEWS (10/21/08 6 AM): Word has just come out that in addition to Michigan, the McCain campaign may be giving up on Colorado, big news for a state that twice went red. See, the little people can make a difference! Get out there and do something in your state!


Charlie said...

Way to go, Curt! Most of us preach to the choir -- you've gone much further to help someone really re-think their position!!
- Charlie

Anonymous said...

We have missed your words and insights while our laptop was acting up.

Hugs to Duncan.