Monday, November 3, 2008

My Vote

I have avoided, thus far, from writing much about the Presidential election. Those of you know me know that I'm a political geek and a capital L liberal. And yet, I've restrained myself from writing much because, well, this isn't a political blog, it's mostly a personal environmentalism blog (among other things.) And I don't believe that climate change should be a right/left issue. I believe the environment should and does have the capacity to cross party lines.

So. For me, that has meant no editorials on why you should vote for Barack Obama, nor charts detailing who has the better environmental track record. I am not out to troll for votes. I believe that you can be a committed environmentalist and vote for John McCain, and what's more, I think, for the sake of us all, there *have* to be committed environmentalists on the other side of the aisle. The Democrats can't solve these problems alone; we need the support of ALL Americans.

But, all that notwithstanding, I have decided, today, to tell you a little about why I am proud to have voted for Barack Obama.

Once upon a time, I was a young girl, who, for whatever reason, dreamed of being president. (Side note: I should add that I have also dreamed at various points in time of being an artist, a maid, an actor, a lawyer, the president of NBC, a teacher, a singer, and an environmental activist. It's a long list.) But the stumbling block I kept coming to, whenever I imagined such a scenario, was that I was an Indian-American, the child of immigrants, a girl. Even then, at a young idealistic age, I knew that in America, you had to be white and male in order to become president. Anytime I thought about being president, I'd hit this stumbling block, and
eventually, I just gave up and stopped dreaming. Because even in my pipe dreams of pipe dreams, I simply could not allow myself to believe that it was possible. Never, no way, no how. I was an American, and proud to be one. I had thousands of opportunities, but president just wasn't one of them.

Then came this election. Suddenly the Democrats were either going to nominate a woman or an African-American, a second-generation American on his father's side. The promise that America holds for all immigrants: that it is a melting-pot, that she welcomes your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, that in America, ANYTHING is possible, well, all that started to feel really true.

This is what Barack Obama represents to me, and thousands of other immigrants, and children of immigrants. This is what Barack Obama represents to the many Africans, South Americans, Canadians, Brits, and Australians who have excitedly pressed me for details about the election in the past weeks. For us, Barack Obama is a symbol of what makes me proudest to be an American: the fact that we truly are a multicultural nation. That we are a nation where thousands of races and religions live together in peace. That we are country where you can eat Korean Barbecue and then drive up La Brea for Iranian ice-cream. That it doesn't matter if your parents came from Kenya, or India, or North Dakota; you CAN still become president.

And in the end, that's why I teared up a little as I checked Obama's name. I may not want to be president anymore, but somewhere out there, I know a young child of immigrants is now free to dream big.

No matter who you are voting for, may you vote with the same sense of pride that I felt.


Joyce said...

Arduous, as you know, I'm voting for the other guy, because of where I stand on certain issues, NOT because I think Sen. Obama is a bad person. BUT, if, as appears likely, Sen. Obama wins tomorrow, I will rejoice that we have finally proven that we can elect a person of color to our highest office. It would be nice to have that hurdle behind us.

Burbanmom said...

Great post, Arduous. I can tell, however, that you're definitely a few years younger than I - for your list failed to include "Solid Gold Dancer" as most 35+ year old women would have had that at the top of their dream-job list :-)

I too will proudly be checking off Obama's name tomorrow and I couldn't be more excited for our country! Now if we could just keep hateful folks from trying to disenfranchise black, immigrant and poor voters, we'd REALLY be making progress. ;-)

Green Bean said...

Now I know why I love you! I too dreamed of being President for years and years. Ah well.

Like you, I am voting for Obama. Like you, I think everyone - no matter where they fall on the political spectrum - should work toward a healthier planet and I am happy to see people doing that.

One of the great things about this election has been that, while an African American is in the race for the most important office in the land, many people often forget that he is African American. I do think we as a culture are moving toward, maybe not color blindness, but acceptance and tolerance. That is why, no matter what happens with Prop 8 tomorrow (and I hope its a NO), I believe we will twenty to thirty years from now, we'll shake our heads and wonder that people ever cared about such a thing.

Anonymous said...

Strangely, I never thought of him as an African American candidate, until the media dwelled on it so much. To me, he transcended his race and gender.

This morning, a friend forwarded a very moving article. I think it echoes some of the points you made here. I am copying the most touching part here:

"I learned in just those three hours that this election is not about what we think of as the "big things."

It's not about taxes. I'm pretty sure mine are going to go up no matter who is elected.

It's not about foreign policy. I think we'll figure out a way to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan no matter which party controls the White House, mostly because the people who live there don't want us there anymore.

I don't see either of the candidates as having all the answers.

I've learned that this election is about the heart of America. It's about the young people who are losing hope and the old people who have been forgotten. It's about those who have worked all their lives and never fully realized the promise of America, but see that promise for their grandchildren in Barack Obama. The poor see a chance, when they often have few. I saw hope in the eyes and faces in those doorways. "

Anonymous said...

@ Burbanmom, oh yes. Oh... yes. Sigh. Thanks for reminding me of that wonderful time in my life, dancing around the living room with the Solid Gold dancers...

@ CindyW, that brought tears to my eyes. Off to read that article...

Arduous, great post. I've refrained from talking about politics on my blog. Sometimes it nearly kills me, but I like that I've created a space there where people don't feel guarded because of their political beliefs. Where people can come and slowly change their minds about some things, without feeling threatened.

But I'm thankful that others do bring up these things. It's a very important election.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Awesome post. Good luck for tomorrow!

Donna said...

Not me, I wanted to be a professional ice skater. :)

Beautiful post. I hope lots more people vote for him, too, and for the same reasons.

Nita Van Zandt said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! A camel driver in Pakistan said that if Obama won, then the US would finally live up to its claim of human rights.

And we're going to do it!! There will be struggle and discord, but we have finally started in a good new direction.

Mama said...

Well written, and I think you are wise to avoid the heated politics and trolling for votes. We do need comitted people on both sides, and even third party candidates to have more of a chance to voice their stand on the issues. I hope we can all work together on the issues no matter who is elected.