Tuesday, June 17, 2008

All Points North

I'm printing a second guest commentary from one of my friends who happens to live north of the border. I sure the readers of this blog will find it interesting to find out what at least one of our neighbors from the north is thinking. Enjoy and Donald, thanks for allowing me to reprint this.

An area politician recently told me, “You’re for Barack Obama. I know someone who has an Obama sign on their lawn. Let’s go and swipe it.” Now if I were visiting the States and viewed a field of Yes We Can signs, I know I’d have the audacity to consider taking one, but I hope I wouldn’t. I replied, “No, a friend who’s an Obama supporter in New York ordered one for me.” It’s not like I need another reason not to trust politicians, but they just never disappoint, do they?

My friends wonder why I am finally getting politically motivated, and obsessing about an election south of the border, no less, but I know I’m not alone. A recent poll by the Canadian polling company Environic and co-sponsored by the CBC found fifteen per cent of Canadians would give up their ballot in Canada's next federal election to vote in the U.S. election. And forty-six per cent of those surveyed said it matters a great deal to Canada who wins the November 2008 U.S. presidential election. I second that motion. This is the first time I've truly been inspired politically. Wanted to vote. Wanted to volunteer. Wanted to get a US work visa and do anything I could for the cause.

Why? Some people think it’s three measly words: Yes We Can. One Presidential candidate thought it was due to one speech Obama gave at the 2004 Democratic convention. I'm insulted by those who think I would be inspired by someone without maintaining objectivity and sound judgement. At my age, it takes more than a speech, Hillary. The fact that her campaign just didn't get that is part of the reason I believe, that she lost the nomination. Some of my female friends wonder why this Feminist wasn’t rooting for Hillary Clinton. I’d rather focus on why I am for Obama, but my partner supported Hillary. That is until she was interviewed on 60 Minutes and responded to interviewer Steve Kroft’s, "You said you'd take Senator Obama at his word that he's not...a Muslim. You don't believe that he's...," with, "No. No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know.” We gays know all too well that parsing words and innuendo lead to uncharitable interpretations.

I’m for Obama because his clear language speaks to me. In his second book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama wrote, “I am not willing to have the state deny American citizens a civil union that confers ... no such basic matters as hospital visitation or health insurance coverage simply because the people they love are of the same sex – nor am I willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount.”

While I completely understand why so many women supported Hillary – her language spoke to them – I am dismayed at the women in my life who feel I should have supported Hillary "no matter what" because she is a woman. I tell them Barack Obama's colour has nothing to do with my support of him, just like years ago my choice to or not to support our very own Canadian MP Svend Robinson had nothing to do with his being gay. With Obama I hear a new language in politics. Or at the very least words we don’t hear enough.

Again from The Audacity of Hope:
“I am convinced that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. For it is the predictability of our current political debate, that keeps us from finding new ways to meet the challenges we face... locked in "either/or" thinking...What is needed is a broad majority who are re-engaged and who see their own self-interest as inextricably linked to the interest of others.” I am engaged and have linked myself with Obamakins worldwide.
YouTube and Facebook have played their part but for me it is so much more. The sex, religion, colour or orientation of an individual has nothing to do with why he or she inspires me. What they say, how they live, do they practice what they preach? – those are the choices that define a human being.

Oh, by the way, my Obama sign arrived. It’s taped inside our front window. You just never know when a very different kind of politician might drive by.

1 comment:

pattylou said...

I don't disagree with the stats from the Canadian poll; I believe the 15% are motivated not by the opportunity to vote in to office either Obama or Clinton, but to be sure that a Republican no longer holds the office. There is no doubt that the Democratic nomination has held the interest of many outside the US, and we would be hardpressed to find someone who wasn't inspired by Barack Obama (and frankly, wished he lived here). That 46% does of course feel that the outcome of the next US election can indeed impact Canada, because it does. We are presently in a NATO led war in Afghanistan; our main single trading partner is in a deep recession; our dollar is ranked higher than this same partner; and our number one vacation destination (again this same partner) is considering putting up a wall to keep us out! I was recently in a conversation with Europeans who view the US election with incredulity, worry, and 'the audacity to hope; incredulity that there is potential for McCain to win; worry that McCain will win; and the audacity to hope that he won't.
Barack Obama carries more than the hopes of some of one nation; he now carries the hopes of many in the world. The good news is, that he has friends outside the US to share the load.