Monday, February 04, 2008

Yes, We Can

by Marcus Sakey

I hesitated before making this post. What I'm doing here is not just political, not just partisan, but outright biased. But then, this isn't a newspaper. It's a forum for the seven of us to share our thoughts, and to discuss them with other people.

So here's my thought (and this one is mine alone, not an Outfit position): Tomorrow I'm going to vote for Barack Obama, and I think you should too.

There's been a lot of complaining lately about voters judging candidates not by their stance on the issues, but on their perceived character. The logic seems to go that character is something that can be manipulated, and therefore isn't as important as a stated position.

The problem with that argument is that everything can be manipulated. Not only that, but positions are by their very nature limited to a moment in time, to a particular set of facts. And as history has shown again and again, stated positions during an election don't necessarily correlate to how people will act once elected.

Character does.

And I believe that Obama's character is exactly what we need right now. Now perhaps more than ever in our history. Our role in the world is changing. Our internal systems are breaking down. We are divided and distrustful.

We need a leader of unquestionable intelligence who refuses to dumb down a position to a soundbite. We need a leader who is more interested in fixing America's many problems than in sitting behind the big desk. We need a leader who dares tells us that we shouldn't be afraid to hope.

Many of you have already seen this video, I'm sure. If you haven't, I urge you to take a look. And look deeper than the celebrity appearances and the music and editing. Listen to the words the man is saying. Listen and ask yourself, when was the last time a politican spoke with that kind of honesty and hope? When was the last time one went into office completely unbeholden to special interests and backroom deals, unsmudged by negative press or shady ethics?



Ask, why wouldn't you vote for him?

Thanks for your patience with my blatant campaigning. And whether or not you vote for Obama, I hope you do vote tomorrow.

Cheers,

-Marcus

30 comments:

DICK ADLER said...

Right on! Not only are you a terrific writer, but you're also smart and sensible.

toddlintown said...

You have a nice little blog here.

Why, oh why, ruin it with political opinion?

Maryann Mercer said...

Marcus, I'm heading to the polls tomorrow with no clear decision, but rest assured, I will vote. The country has been sitting for the most part on her political butt for the past decade...it is definitely time to stand up and pay attention, no matter what your politics, or maybe in spite of them. Thanks for the reminder.

Marcus Sakey said...

Toddlintown, you raise a fair question. I'll answer it as honestly as I can.

First, I'd like to point out that this isn't a formal endorsement, a paid placement, or anything similar. We get requests all the time to post about this author or that event, and generally turn them down. This space isn't for rent.

However, it is a place where we can speak our minds. Sometimes that will be telling stories, sometimes it will be loving up Chicago, sometimes it will be listing our favorite movies.

Sometimes, though, it will be more serious than that.

I meant it when I said that I think that as a country, we need more than ever an intelligent, principled leader of good character. This isn't play time stuff. It matters. Picking the wrong person now could do incredible damage to our country and the world.

And for that reason, I'm more interested in making a strong statement for a person I believe in than I am in maintaining this as a "nice little blog."

That said, I do welcome discussion and dissent, either on the candidates or on my choice to post in favor of one of them. And I hope that doing so won't drive you away. We don't have to agree on everything all the time. And isn't it better to have a forum to chat?

Kevin Guilfoile said...

Hmm. Anyone who thinks we don't talk politics here hasn't been paying attention.

For the record I'll note that I seconded the motion elsewhere today.

Brett Battles said...

Nice post, Marcus. I'm with you.

Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

There is nothing wrong with political discussions as long as everyone agrees with me.

Which Marcus does.

Barbara D'Amato said...

Gee, I like to hear people's opinions, political or otherwise. What fun are non-opinions?

Shannon said...

I was so excited when Obama announced his candidacy, I almost did cartwheels. I am so very impressed with him. I have told all my friends to check him. Listen to what he says. Look beyond the usual politics and look at the message. The only power we truly have is the ballot box. Everyone should vote.

Rosemary Harris said...

I've never been more conflicted on the eve of a primary. And all day I've been getting lengthy, well-thought-out emails from friends in both camps. Oddly enough, the longest ones are from people explaining why they've gone over to the other side. I'm still not quite sure who I'll be pulling the lever for...my pub date is tmw - debut mystery - and tonight's big decision was crudites or cheese - but either way (Hillary or Obama, not the crudites or cheese)it will be an historic night. I can't remember a time when I haven't voted AGAINST someone, I'm almost as excited about that as I am about the book thing...almost.

Sara Paretsky said...

I was one of the first people to support Obama's senate campaign--I gave him money for it 2 years before he announced. I knew he was electable even when the punditry was saying no way. And after a lot of agonizing, down to today, I have decided to vote for Hillary tomorrow. I like Obama, I'll be working for him if he's the nominee, but I've watched Hillary in New York. I've been impressed by how hard she's worked to support the people on the margins in her state--even, or maybe e specially, in the conservative blue-collar upstate areas. I respect her brains, and I admire her for not cracking under the relentless vitriol she's attracted for 20 years. I wish Barack hadn't felt compelled to say he's been walking with Jesus for those same 20 years. I worry about what else may be behind Rezco. I wish he hadn't voted "present" so often when he was my state senator, and I wish he weren't making noises about Social Security. I like how Hillary has thought through health care and the mortgage lending crisis. But it was still a hard choice: I'd read Krugman and think yes, Hillary, and Herbert and think yes, Obama. But for me it will be Hillary.

Rob said...

Unfortunately, I couldn't vote for Obama in the primary. Since I now live in Michigan, I had to vote "Undecided." Which is really funny, because I'm not undecided. I don't want to foster another dynasty in the White House; I want a president who gives me hope.

Pete said...

Politics is specifically about the institutional structures we put in place to govern our everyday lives, but is ultimately about how we feel about ourselves and our relationships to other. It's people discussing and deciding the way society should be. To not discuss it is a unhealthy act of denial. So instead of being some sort of taboo, it's always an appropriate topic of conversation - even on this "nice little blog."

Marcus, I second you on Obama. He's far and away the best candidate to lead the country forward to bigger and better things.

Fiona said...

During the short time that women in the USA have had the right to vote, we have never had a viable female candidate for President---until now. Women have protested, were jailed and devoted their lives for my right to vote for this woman, and I will go to the caucus tonight----and vote instead for a man. I will cast my vote for a man who I feel will do a better job as President and have a better chance of winning the nomination. I feel like a traitor.

It is physically painful for me to think that I am spitting on the memories of those brave women. I want to help make history, and give girls and women in this country a larger voice and a symbol of what they can accomplish in their own lives. I WANT to vote for a woman for President, just not that woman.

I had lunch with a dear friend who was appalled that I was not going to support OUR CANDIDATE tonight. How could I NOT support a woman who would be the "tipping point" for politics in our country? What was wrong with me? It was TIME we had a female President. Just look at other countries, even Muslim countries, that have had women in leadership positions.

I guess that is why I won't be voting for her. I want our first female president to be someone I can be proud to support because she is the person I want to be president, not just the person's gender I wish we had as our nation's leader.

Libby Hellmann said...

I've been wavering for months. I dreaded today, unsure who I was going to vote for. But in the last week, I think my subconscious was making a decision. I voted for Hillary.

Is she more likeable? No. Is she more eloquent? No. Is she the best leader? Probably not. Does she have warts? Clearly.

And yet... she has something Obama doesn't. Years of experience dealing with powerful interests. I appreciate Obama's "Let's start a new way of governing", but if he's elected, I fear he and his people will find Washington a tough place. He might want a new way of governing, but the lobbyists and special interests won't. And they'll manipulate, pressure, and strong arm his administration the way they always have. The question then is what will he do?

An article in the NY TImes over the weekend was telling. It detailed legislation Obama proposed in Illinois requiring nuclear power plants to alert communities whenever there's a problem, ie low level radiation leaks. Over the course of the legislation, it kept getting watered down until the final version was not a requirement but voluntary guidelines. And then the bill never made it out of committee.

It's just one example, but it makes me wonder how Obama will deal with other issues and problems. I know Hillary cam navigate through the thicket of Washington politicos. ANd I know her heart and mind is in the right place. I also know there's nothing more the Republicans can throw at her than they already have. It's all old news. She can handle it.

Whereas I just don't know about Obama. He's likeable, inspiring, and charming, but at times his words strike me as airy... just air. Sure, unity is great. So is a new brand of politics. But what happens when he meets resistance?

I'd rather have a known quantity. And a fighter. We're going to need one to clean up the past 8 years.

Sorry to go on so long.

Maryann Mercer said...

I went to the polls and ended up voting my conscience, which at the end spoke more eloquently to me than all the last minute speeches. That said, I will work like crazy for the candidate who wins the nomination because I believe this country needs change...well thought out and well planned change. I'm hoping to hear those plans in the next few months. Again, great post Marcus.

Sara Paretsky said...

Libby, I think I went through much of the same process as you. And although I feel the energy Barack generates, I worry about his close ties to the Stroger and Daley machines--two very corrupt and corrupting organizations. However, whoever the candidate is, I will be there!

Sara

Patry Francis said...

What I like about Obama is that he doesn't say that he can change this country, but that WE can. Whether it's true or not remains to be seen, but I voted to give him--and us--a chance to try. Too many of us have felt disenfranchised and powerless for too long.

However, I have to say Sara and Libby's comments here were pretty powerful and persuasive. In the end,we have to make our best choice, and humbly
hope it was the right one.

P.S. Thanks for participating in Liar's Diary blog day last week. What you wrote meant a lot...I only hope you don't have to buy back too many books...

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