8.26.2008

The audacity of this Obama supporter's hope



We talk about change in this country. We talk about wanting it for our sons and daughters, for our future, for the planet.

Me, I want Nate to believe again

In 2004 he discovered politics, energized by the possibility of a Wesley Clark candidacy, urged on by my bleeding heart family, and excited by the prospect of affecting change. The results of the election (don't get me started on Ohio voter fraud) destroyed not only his enthusiasm, but his confidence in the entire system.

Like a preacher who discovers that there is no God, his faith is gone. He's angry. Steam-out-of-the-ears furious. But it comes out as cynicism. And our daughters are going to hear that.

Nate doesn't believe that the system can be changed. He believes all politicians are inherently corrupt and that it's all just a big meaningless horse race. He's sure whoever wins it means jack for the country, jack for the world.

But that's not how I roll.

The Democratic National Convention flickered on the TV in front of me, the volume turned way down. At this moment, Michelle Obama was taking to the stage following an emotional introduction from her mother. We should all be so proud of our daughters, I thought. Whoever it is they grow to become. I was teary.

That's when Nate decided to enter the room. He turned towards the TV, then turned towards me. And then Nate. Oh, Nate Nate Nate. He rolled his eyes, snorted and harumphed back towards ESPN where I guess the "horse races" are somehow more meaningful?

I won't apologize for being moved by this candidacy or by the Obamas' story. I won't live my life convinced that there is no hope for the future, that there is no candidate so compelling and visionary and hard-working and committed that he can't change the world. He doesn't have to be perfect; he just has to be right.

I have to believe. I need to believe.

It's my greatest hope that I'll be able to turn to Nate in a few years when things are better, the country I love is commanding respect again, and the good guys are back to doing good things and say--not for the first time by the way--Told ya'

Something tells me he'd be okay with that.


55 Comments:

Blogger Kelly said...

It was a great night at the convention, absolutely. Go Obama!

8/26/08, 11:15 AM  
Blogger Cynthia Samuels said...

It's sad how many Nates there are. I just hope that we are able to pull this election out of the quarrels of the past weeks. I'm just desolate about it.
It IS hard to keep caring when things are so grim but when we owe a future to our children I don't any alternative to hoping - and putting our actions behind each shard of hope we can summon.
BTW as a mom I love your response to Michelle - says a lot about your own mother (whom I've met so I'm not surprised.)

8/26/08, 11:30 AM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

I'm not sure he's our best hope. SORRY to all his supporters, but Hillary would have been better. Taking away MI and FL's delegates until AFTER he was given the nod was wrong.

All the election fraud has destroyed many people's confidence in the system. 2000 did it for me. That "man" is not our President, but an embarrassment.

8/26/08, 12:10 PM  
Blogger Immoral Matriarch said...

I hope that you're able to say it to him too.

Si Se Puede!

8/26/08, 12:10 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Gretchen, respectfully...there are two candidates in the running, and one provides great hope. The other does not.

It's time to end the Hillary v Obama contest and put our heads together and make things bright and happy and unicorn-filled again. If the Clintons have fought for anything in their lives, it's to end the crippling stronghold of the republican right. With the best and brightest of the party putting their heads together--along with our invaluable support--I believe that can happen.

8/26/08, 12:23 PM  
Blogger WMW said...

My husband is not quite that cynical but close. No one's come closer than Obama to bringing him out of that.

Remember: there has never been anything false about hope.

8/26/08, 12:49 PM  
Blogger Georgia said...

I wish I was more you and less Nate. I can't help but roll my eyes when I hear either candidate making promises and spouting ideas, even though I want more than anything to be proven wrong. That's not saying I won't vote, of course, I just wish I didn't feel like I was doing it in vain.

The person who moves me the most right now is Michelle, and I'm okay with that.

8/26/08, 12:58 PM  
Blogger Random Chick said...

Unfortunately, I'm with Nate. I lost my hope in 2004 when Al Gore got dissed and I'm not sure I can get it back, even after I watched the video "Yes we can" and even after I heard Michelle Obama. I'm still skeptical and will probably remain that way.

Hey, my eldest daughter went to Kindergarten today. Her first day of school. I wrote about it on my blog. I try to have hope for her because I know she senses my apathy sometimes. But that's partly why I had children, even when everyone kept saying "why the hell would you bring a child into this world?" I told them, because of hope. My hope that my children someday can contribute to the greater good rather than be consumed by all the crap in the world. Here's hoping we can enable our children to do that.

8/26/08, 1:04 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Good for you for getting this message out there. As mothers, our commitment to the politcal world shapes our children's futures. I applaud you for your topic this morning and for you hope. Let's spread it around!

8/26/08, 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Motherhood Uncensored said...

For our family, it will be a tough election. On a RARE night out alone, my husband, a poli sci major and a political enthusiast shared his greatest concern with me -- and it is yours:

The fate of this country for OUR CHILDREN. What happens now is what makes a difference for our kids.

Of course, his choice might differ from mine in terms of who offers the most hope, but one thing's for certain, we've got to get it back somehow.

8/26/08, 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

I was a teary mess when I watched the Kennedy video and speech. Part of it was sentimentality, but part of it was fear that McCain will get elected and the planet will implode.

8/26/08, 1:24 PM  
Blogger caramama said...

I am a cynic, like Nate. I do believe that all politicians are corrupt and that change is hard to make happen. Perhaps it's because I am from the DC area and am now living her again and I see so much that is so wrong and none of it surprises me.

But I do have hope. I have been excited about Obama. I think that he is our best chance for real change. I'd really like to see what he can accomplish in the Office.

But Biden? Really? What a disappointing start. And I'm feel cynical all over again.

8/26/08, 1:29 PM  
Blogger Marketing Mommy said...

My husband's idealism hangs in the balance. He's sworn to me that if Obama doesn't win this election, he will lose faith in the American people and fall into a deep depression. And he's not joking.

I loved Michelle Obama's speech. But (quibble ahead) it was her brother who introduced her. Her mother voiced over the video montage.

8/26/08, 1:33 PM  
Blogger Feeder of the Hungry Beans said...

Like Nate, I lost all faith sometime between the last election and this. I have a very hard time believing one man or one party can or will make a difference. But my husband is like you. Obama has him fired up. And last night, craving company, I curled up next to him and watched the speeches. And damn if Michelle didn't manage to move this old cynic just a little bit.

8/26/08, 2:00 PM  
Blogger Russ, Anna and Pepper said...

No matter who you support, you said it best, We need a country that commands respect again!!!!! Thank you for putting it in some great words. I find myself feeling like Nate a lot of days in this election year. But for my daughter's sake, I pull myself out of it to be involved. Thanks again!

8/26/08, 2:28 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Thanks for talking about Michelle Obama's speech. Both my husband and I thought it was fantastic, and were surprised and disappointed that it didn't seem to receive a more enthusiastic response.

I agree that respect is what we need to regain. Respect for our country and our leadership from within and from the rest of the world, as well as that hope that things can and will continue to get better for our children and the future.

8/26/08, 2:40 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I am somewhere between you and Nate, but I for sure would love to be swung your way.

8/26/08, 2:43 PM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

I, too, was very touched by last night's inspirational and hopeful speeches at the convention. And it made me believe again.

8/26/08, 2:59 PM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

I don't know him, but I think he'll be OK with that!

8/26/08, 3:04 PM  
Blogger ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I too was touched my last night's speeches but not enough to give me back faith in the system. I lost mine in 1988, the first year I voted. There was a major issue about the electoral votes in WV, my home state & nothing I have seen since has given me back that faith. Though I had a moment the first time Perot ran. I really think we need a strong 3rd party in this country.
I do however have hope. The systme could get better. Politicians could stop lying to everyone just to get votes. Actual workable plans made instead of grandiose feel good rhetoric repeated. Maybe Obama is the guy to fix it. But maybe it's just too broken to fix. Time will tell. I think I have just seen too much to have faith resorted, but I have hope it is possible.

8/26/08, 3:40 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

I still have hope but it's waning, I must admit. Obama is a good man, for sure. I want him to win, no question. Four more years of neocons like Bush and his cronies in the White House seems impossible to fathom. ... And yet why did he vote in favor of FISA? Why did he not take a stand against the systematic erosion of our constitutional rights?

If politicians continue walk on safe ground to get elected. If they must be careful not to ruffle feathers to keep their positiions or to just get get in the door in the first place, when will it end? Will we ever again have someone who will really represents our best interests? Interests that may be divergent of what we want? Of what big business wants?

Or are we forever doomed to reactionary thinking disguised as proactive solutions?

I know. Not much point to what I've said. I'll go on believing like Susan Walker does in "Miracle on 34th Street," without real conviction.

Maybe this miracle will happen, too.

8/26/08, 4:57 PM  
Blogger b said...

Well shit, I'm on the other political side of the spectrum and Nate and I feel about the same way. Two sides talking about things they are not really interested in doing unless it will get them (re)elected.

(But I still vote because I don't take that right lightly.)

8/26/08, 4:59 PM  
Blogger Fear and Parenting said...

I believe in the promise of a better future for our kids. I need to believe (against the odds) that they'll have a better life than me. I need to see the possibility in life, in themselves and in their fellow humans. Yes, our leaders are human. they make mistakes. We need to find a way to forgive the actions and believe in the process to open a meaningful dialogue about what's important to us as a family, as communities, and as a country.

While I feel for Nate (being a poli sci grad myself), I am a person for whom today is too late. I live in tomorrow. I have to believe that there are people, despite their flaws and suspicious ulterior motivations, deeply want to make this country and this world a better place.

8/26/08, 5:23 PM  
Anonymous My Baby Pajamas said...

It is sad to say, I too am like Nate. It's not that I don't want to believe what they are saying, it's just hard to stomache. I am trying hard to stay positive for my children also. My 3rd grader is really into the election from school. So he is always talking about it. I am trying to stay positive but I know it's going to take a lot of work to get this country back. I wish I had the hope of my 3rd grader!!

8/26/08, 5:33 PM  
Anonymous anna said...

I voted for Hillary in the primaries, but have been on the fence all along. I agree it's time to put that baby to bed. We've got to unite, and Obama does offer hope--I think that he is truly inspiring to people and for that we should get behind him. It may be just what our party needs, not to mention our country.

8/26/08, 6:13 PM  
Anonymous Becky W said...

So I just posted my reaction to Michelle Obama's appearance last night here
before I came to read your post. I somehow knew you would have written something amazing. (Sorry, I know you don't know who I am. I am a bit of a lurker. Not a stalker, just a lurker.) Anyway, you don't disappoint. I am crying, again! Oh wait, even better. I just read your response to Gretchen. My sister is a delegate at the Convention. A Hilary delegate. But she got on the Obama train because she is in it for what is best for the party and for our country. Thanks for writing.

8/26/08, 6:24 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I just love all of you cynics. I sleep with one every night.

I hope that somehow before November, we can turn it from cynicism into skepticism which I've always thought was similar but more productive.

b, I love hearing your "other side" pov. Not that I'll convince you here, but when I asked a friend who went to Harvard with Obama what she thought of him - arrogant? Aloof? Overconfident? Her answer sold me:

"Liz, he's the real deal. Just what you hope he is. Incredibly smart, incredibly hard working. He's that one guy who really believes in what he's doing."

I liked that.

8/26/08, 6:30 PM  
Blogger PeetsMom said...

I am right there in the middle of the room with you two. I feel hopeless, but want to have faith too!

I saw Michelle Obama speak at the California Governor's conference for Women last fall, amidst some other candidate wives, and was so impressed with her even then.

Maybe the hope and energy from the Obama's will spread and from that real change will come??? MAYBE??

8/26/08, 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Renee said...

I think the way you said it is best - The Clintons will be appalled if everything they've worked for their whole lives is trashed because some people can't get over that Hillary lost. She has worked her whole political life for the rights of women, families and the middle-class. I think those who will not support Obama because they are disappointed are really being incredibly disrespectful to Hillary. How can they even think of electing McCain and giving the country 4 more years of the same! I, for one, need to have hope. My son is 1 year old and I have to believe that there is a better future for him.
BTW - if anyone is interested, there is an incredibly well-written and interesting article on how the Obama campaign beat Hillary's on politico.com.

8/26/08, 8:15 PM  
Blogger Petra said...

For all of our sakes, I hope to God that we can do that...it is hard not to get cynical, but cynicism doesn't do anything but keep a lot of people idly standing by, and what good is that going to do? I think Obama could change things for the good, but even if you think Hilary would have been better, don't you think you need to do SOMETHING to propel us forward? Hilary isn't in the running anymore, we need to deal with who IS.

8/26/08, 9:26 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

I hope this election and the changes to follow will restore his faith. Kind of like convincing a kid that Christmas is still good even though there's no Santa Claus.

http://notesfromthesleepdeprived.blogspot.com

8/26/08, 9:39 PM  
Blogger Christy said...

I was a big Wes Clark supporter (I'm an Arkansan too...) and I was dashed with what happened in that race.

I am finally excited again...and I can't wait for the Obamas to take the country by storm.

8/26/08, 10:25 PM  
Blogger Maureen @ Wisconsin Mommy said...

I too have become cynical of politics. Around here (Milwaukee) the voter fraud is openly supported by the local Democratic government. It doesn't matter which side of the fence you are on, when you feel that your vote doesn't count the elections have no meaning.

8/26/08, 10:49 PM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

I can understand Nate's fustaration. I got tired of the back and forth arguing between Clinton and Obama supporters about which criticisms of Clinton were sexist and which weren't. I also nearly lost faith in Obama with the whole Fisca incident and considered going with Nader,yet he runs every year and though he has good policies, I don't think he'd be willing to compromise. And I found that if I were eligible to vote in 04, I'd go with Howard Dean because the qualm I found with Clark was that he only wanted U.S. forces to attack Al queda rather than the Taliban even though they were a problem as well. But I dunno: I like Obama/biden,I hope Biden can encourage him to steer away from the drilling idea.

8/27/08, 3:56 AM  
Anonymous WickedStepMom said...

No matter who wins the election they wil have thier jobs cut out for them. It is time that more people start having John Wayne's attitude. "I didn't vote for him, but he is my president." Whoever wins will need the support of this country even if we don't always agree with them.

8/27/08, 11:49 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Wickedstepmom: Shoot, does that mean I have to take down my W: Not my president bumper sticker from my car?

It has been 8 years.

8/27/08, 12:00 PM  
Blogger the new girl said...

I feel a little like Nate. I do.

But I hope you're right and I'll be way glad to get that 'I told you so.'

I won't even be a little sore.

8/27/08, 12:10 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Although we do not support the same candidate, I agree with you. We need more people to become engaged with the political process. My husband has never been political and it pains me to no end. He scoffs when I am watching the various cable news channels because they are wall to wall political coverage these days. He usually retreats to the bedroom and turns on a baseball game or ESPN. I try to encourage him to just sit down and listen to the candidates views, but it isn't going to happen. You would think with him being in the military that he would be a little more engaged since the next president will be his Commander in Cheif, but he figures he has to listen to whoever is in office so his opinion doesn't really matter.

8/27/08, 12:57 PM  
Blogger b said...

I appreciate you answering me. I don't doubt Barack Obama and John McCain want what is best for this country. When you are on the stump making speeches and meeting people, you get re-energized and focused on your goals. Then you get into the fishbowl that is DC and it's one compromise after another.

I do get tired of all the bickering and accusing. I think a person's character does matter, but they get so stupid in their attacks. I don't care if Obama has celeb appeal and I don't care if McCain is unsure about how many homes are actually in HIS name (as opposed to his wife's). I don't think those things reflect the candidate. That has been irritating me since the Clinton years. With GWB it's been even uglier. All that stuff does nothing but distract from the serious issues that we the individual citizens have to pay attention to and barrage our Congresspeople about. If we don't nag the elected officials, then they turn out like the bunch we have right now.

8/27/08, 4:42 PM  
Blogger StephKat17 said...

I have so little faith in the "average voter" now after they RE-elected W in 2004 that I want desperately to believe that Obama can and will win, but I can't quite get there. I just think it's such an OBVIOUS CHOICE and the fact that the polls are so close gives me ulcers. Truly. I was in line behind two people at Lowe's the other day and heard them wistfully wishing there were no term limits because "I'd vote for W agin too" and it made me want to scream at them, cry at them, and throw up on their feet. In the end I could barely find words to answer the cashier's "how are you today" question through my shock. Mostly though, I think I want to sit down and have a rational conversation with people like that and find out why--WHY?!--you would vote for W again. But actually that wouldn't stand a chance of being a rational conversation would it? Siiigh. Maybe it would be better if I were like Nate.

8/27/08, 6:01 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I can't help myself from asking you this: but what if your daughters turn out to become...Republicans?

And I take HUGE offense at Stephkat17's comment. The idea that I vote conservatively because I have not been properly educated (or had a "rational discussion with a Democrat") could not be further from the truth. We all choose our candidates based on our own personal values and beliefs. To say that mine are any less valid than anyone else's just because they're different is a prime example of why the rest of the world seems to hate us so much. It's arrogant and intolerant and kind of exactly the opposite of what "liberal" is meant to mean.

Anyway, carry on, Liz. I bear no grudge no matter who wins this election! I'm glad to see people getting fired up about politics on any side of the fence!

8/28/08, 12:41 AM  
Blogger StephKat17 said...

I'm not saying conservatives are uneducated and/or irrational. I truly would like to have a conversation with someone who would vote specifically for Bush a third time and find out why. Not to convince you otherwise, but to truly understand WHY. Is it the gas prices? The economy in general? The multiple wars? The bullying of other nations in addition to the ones we're occupying? The crimes committed in the name of national security (torture, wiretapping, stacking the justice department, releasing the names of spies, etc etc)? Please explain this to me (and I'm serious here, someone explain it to me, I'm not being sarcastic).

8/28/08, 6:36 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Amanda, follow the link in the post above ("that's not how I roll") which links to an article I wrote about that very thing. Good question.

8/28/08, 7:14 AM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

Well said, b, I whole-heartedly agree.

In regard to those speaking of what Hillary has worked for all of her political life - you do realize she was the president of College Republicans, don't you? Sure, people change their minds as they get older, but she WAS of voting age while in college...no?

8/28/08, 10:42 AM  
Blogger J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I guess I'm right between you two..I'm mighty cynical, always have been when it comes to politicians. I don't necessarily believe they're all corrupt, I just think the system that they work in is corrupt. Will it get better under Obama than under Bush? All signs point to yes. Will corporate America loosen its hold on our daily lives, let go of the reins that hold us in check, let go of the immense power they have accumulated these last 50 years (and a LOT of that in the last 8)? I think not.

And actually, I don't think that recognizing this is the abandonment of hope. I just have never found a candidate that I can totally believe in, one that I can assure myself won't let me down in the end. But I can still hope.

And I'd sure love to hear a 'told ya'.

8/28/08, 12:28 PM  
Blogger J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Looking through your comments here, I was struck by the idea of cynicism vs. skepticism. I went and tried to define the difference a bit for myself, and I would like to get back over to the skeptical side, a bit further from the cynical side. I'm not there yet. Perhaps President Obama can help me out. I'll never be unicorns and rainbows about ANY politician, but I'd like to believe that real change is actually possible. (Well, I know it's possible. W changed this country a hell of a lot, hasn't he. Sigh.)

8/28/08, 12:46 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Thanks J, I myself am skeptical of a lot of things. But I think cynicism is paralyzing at best counterproductive at worst.

And your last line really strikes a chord with me. Indeed, to those who say what's the difference? 4 years made a hell of a lot of difference around here didn't it.

8/28/08, 1:01 PM  
Blogger 2BeautifulGirlsMommy said...

It is sad to say I am with Nate. It is tough to see the direction this country is going and no one seems willing to stop it. Our voting system is a sham and without a complete overhaul the "peoples will" will always be the large corporations will.
I hope for change I really do but honestly doubt anyone can do it. I hope this next 4 years proves me wrong.

8/28/08, 6:53 PM  
Blogger J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Liz, had to come back and tell you that I watched the speech tonight, and my cynicism is melting...

I have never in my life voted for someone I believed in, only the lesser of two idiots. This looks to be a milestone in my own life.

8/28/08, 11:34 PM  
OpenID jendo89 said...

To say that mine are any less valid than anyone else's just because they're different is a prime example of why the rest of the world seems to hate us so much. It's arrogant and intolerant and kind of exactly the opposite of what "liberal" is meant to mean.

But wait, aren't you conservatives the ones who hate moral relativism? Sorry, I couldn't resist.

I was raised by a staunch republican and converted myself during college. However, I maintain that basis of skepticism about motives and a desire to see government function in a way that encourages the behaviors we want to see people have, rather than the opposite.

But during my republican youth, I read all those Reader's Digest condensed versions of life in the gulag and I'm sorry, it left me with a core deep hatred of torture.

And we torture now. We lost all our moral high ground when that became a policy. We lost our souls.

So, honestly, I don't get the cynicism. Of course, everything isn't going to just get better. But we are at a huge crossroads right now, the kind that you imagine as a child who reads a lot -- there's the path that doesn't torture, that stands for some things. And then there's the path we've been on.

8/29/08, 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I read your post, I thought you were talking about my husband! I hope, I dare to hope, that you are right. I believe Obama is just who we need right now, last night sealed the deal for me.

8/29/08, 9:44 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

On behalf of Ohio, I'd like to say I'm sorry and I hope we've fixed that problem. Our new Secretary of State seems to be on the up-and-up, and is even encouraging voters to vote absentee if they're not comfortable with the machines (for the record, she hates the machines, too, but is stuck with them for now).

I remember waiting in the rain for hours four years ago, with my mom watching our newborn at home. I was so upset about that election. Hope is hard-won for me, but I'm really trying to let it in.

8/30/08, 11:11 AM  
Anonymous FireMom said...

Sorry for the negative comments you're getting but I'm sure you knew they would come.

I loved this post. I have hope for my children that they don't have to harumph back out of the room because of such things.

Here's hoping!

8/30/08, 12:28 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I know I have lots of new commenters and readers and they are welcome more than you know it.

But this is not a forum for anonymous mudslinging or political talking points. I'm happy to have those discussions with you at MOMocrats, at BlogHer, or at Huffington Post, among other places.

8/30/08, 12:33 PM  
OpenID carlae said...

For the first time in a very long time I do have hope again for this country. I said that I would move to Canada if HW Bush won, I didn't go. I said that I would move to Canada if GW Bush won, I didn't go. When the election was stolen last time I was depressed for weeks. This time if McCain wins (by some miracle) we are truly leaving this country. Stupid only goes so far.

9/1/08, 9:50 AM  

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