Why I’m proud to vote for President Obama.

I wish that the world were a better place.

I wish that more Americans wanted genuine equality and bodily autonomy for their fellow citizens. I wish that more Americans understood the implications of the enormous inequities of our economy. I wish that more Americans respected scientific inquiry and I wish that more Americans showed compassion, for each other and for strangers around the world. I likewise wish that global politics were straightforward, and that the people who should be on the right side of history consistently volunteered to get on, and stay on, that side.

But I live in the current world, in America-as-it-is. Even though American support for such civil rights issues as marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose is on the rise, somewhere around half of us still don’t support either. Nearly half of us believe in Creationism, and 41% of us still view Muslims unfavorably. Over 60% of us support drone strikes in foreign lands (which, given that many believe that the alternative is actual invasion, might actually be a good sign), and we’re about evenly divided as to who we trust more to deal with the economy – the guy who thinks it’s ok to write off 47% of Americans, or the guy who managed, however imperfectly, to save this country from a second Great Depression.

Do the President and I always agree? Of course not. I’ve always been to the left of him politically, and just last night I found myself in knots over the Israel/Palestine issue. I rarely agree all the time with anyone, frankly.

But here’s the thing: You don’t need to always agree with someone to respect him.

The President of the United States has to be President of everyone, not just me and my fondest dreams, and I believe that this President has done a remarkable job in finding a space that is a little bit left of center on most issues, a space from which he has acted to advance our country toward a place in which more people enjoy greater freedoms and more dignity. He has gone to bat for women and the LGBTQ community, American consumers and college students; he has improved services for veterans and provided health care for millions of people who didn’t have it (including 4 million children); he has acted in both legislation and by example in support of science and education.

All this while facing an opposition that has been openly dedicated to his political destruction, often for reasons that have more to do with his skin than his policies. Indeed, it should be noted (and noted again and again) that Obama only enjoyed a Democratic majority in Congress for a grand total of five months in the course of his Presidency, in mid-2009 – so even if we presume (and I do) that his personal opinions are sometimes to the left of his public positions — when exactly was he supposed to work his progressive magic on the legislative branch? “Quick, we can break a filibuster! PASS ALL THE BILLS.”

Moreover (and not incidentally for me), President Obama’s respect for intelligent inquiry, for individuals and peoples; his gentle humor and backbone of steel; the willingness he’s shown to take bold action and also to admit error; and his constant, consistent refusal to get involved in the mind games that literally millions of people are trying to play with him — these all reflect a manner that I not only want to see in my President, but am hoping to teach my children.

All of which is lovely, of course, but I live in Illinois. Barack Obama does not actually need my vote.

But — first and foremost — this is how American democracy works. My vote will only be counted if I actually cast it. Will it make a difference at the Electoral College level? No. But if I want people like me to be visible anywhere else, then I have to participate in the process (and it’s inevitable that people who choose not to cast a ballot for President often wind up not voting at all, and there are frankly plenty of Democrats down ticket who need all the support they can get).

And then there’s the fact that people have been fighting — and dying — all over the world lately to gain access to this right that we take so for granted.

But as luck would have it, I’m happy to participate. I’m pleased and proud to vote for an imperfect man who I believe to have made real mistakes along the way, because I have watched him struggle mightily for four years to forge the right path forward and to do the absolute best he can for the American people. I believe the country I live in to be a more perfect union because of the Obama Presidency, and I believe that four more years (notably without the threat of a re-election campaign hanging over him) will only serve to deepen and strengthen that slow, endless process of perfection. And I will be spending several days over the next two weeks doing everything a peon can to see to it that President Obama gets his chance.

Is Barack Obama the answer to all my dreams? No. Am I proud he’s my President? To borrow a phrase: You betcha.

And by voting for him, I get to help make my world a little bit better.

PS Wondering WTF Obama has done so far? Clicking here is a good place to find a few choice answers.

6 Comments

  1. JHarper2

     /  October 23, 2012

    Yeah Emily.
    Even if for those who believe that Obama is only the lesser of two evils, should not people vote to have less evil?
    You betcha!

  2. Here, here!

  3. fleeting expletive

     /  October 23, 2012

    I agree with you so much. That Bolton, Sununu and Ryan himself are Mr. Romney’s advisors scares me so much. I too will vote happily for Mr. Obama, and like your vote, mine won’t make any difference (Oklahoma).

  4. In 2008, I seriously doubted that Barack Obama could become President. I didn’t think the country was ready to elect a black man. Well, I was wrong. Last night I watched the debate, and as I looked at Obama I felt proud of my President and proud of my country. No, I’m not happy with everything that he’s done. But I believe he’s sincere, competent, compassionate, intelligent, and has proven his leadership ability (unlike his opponent.) I will still be proud of him even if he turns out to be a one-term President. But of course I hope he won’t.

  5. Joe Vorderbrueggen

     /  October 23, 2012

    Emily,
    You speak well for me too! Here, Here! I too am proud of not only what President Obama has accomplished in the face of a tsunami of hate and resistance from the Right, but most of all because of how he has brought back a sense of decency and honor to our country. You said it so eloquently, Emily! Thanks for your courage to speak up!
    Yet I am just so perplexed at how narrow-minded, short-sighted, self-centered and downright ignorant so many are. How can they not see what is so evident to me! Sure Obama is not perfect! But oh, my! After our last administration, you would think people would be grateful for someone to come in and do such a great job of cleaning up the mess! Certainly we’re not fully healed, but Obama sure has stopped the bleeding and brought us back to consciousness!
    As I look across our world, even among the bad, I see so much promise…so much progress! Technology has brought us amazingly closer to each other and has encouraged so much more understanding and cooperation than ever before. This is why it is so hard for me to understand how people can continue to idealize and justify the ignorance of the past…when we hated people because they looked different, made fun of people because they acted different, and killed people because they believed differently! After all the hate and killing that we have seen, why can’t we stop! Why do we still feel like ours is the only way, the only opinion, the only truth…and condemn people who disagree??? This is why I am so confused! Why can’t everyone see how much better everything would be if we could just learn to be respectful, tolerant, encouraging and positive. Yes, I understand that we, as Americans, are so much further along in this attitude than so many others in the world. But that is ever so much more the reason that we have to continue to cherish and abide by such principals, no matter what the cost!!!
    One of the most telling events in the recent past, that most poignantly describes exactly what I’m talking about, has to do with President Obama’s response to our “water-boarding” of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. I was so proud that finally someone – one of our actual leaders and not some lonely voice in the distance – didn’t just stand up and spout out all this rhetoric about how great and glorious our laws and constitutional principals are, but finally was willing to hold us…the all-knowing, and all-great USofA…. accountable for living by the very principals we claim to uphold! The US doesn’t torture people….EVER…not under ANY circumstances!!! Right?
    I would think this is self-evident! If you can’t live by your own principals, how can you respect those principals, let alone brag about them and expect everyone else respect them! But believe it or not, many Americans not only didn’t get it, but were appalled that Obama could be so weak and so “un-American”. Many of his critics glorified the “bravery” of those willing to go to such lengths to “save” our country from those terrorists! They even accuse Obama of being one of them!
    Not me! I was so proud that among all the rah-rah, America-love-it-or-leave-it, we-need-to-show-strength, those-evil-people-want-to-kill us, justifications for abandoning our principals, SOMEONE finally said, NO, this is NOT who WE are! WE ARE AMERICANS!
    Obama was the brave one! He didn’t pound his chest and shout, “we’re number one…we do whatever we need to do to protect ourselves”. No! He challenged us with our own ideals! His definitive declaration that “we don’t torture people” forced us to ask ourselves the question: If WE truly believe in America – like we all say we do, and trust that our righteousness (laws and principals) will prevail over evil, regardless of how evil, then how can we abandon them when the going get’s tough? Obama made it clear! We ARE who we say we are…and will ACT like we say we should act, no matter what the situation.
    To me, Emily, that is the definition of “INTEGRITY”! And if all Americans would ACT the way they portend to believe….”in God we trust”, “ALL men are created equal”, “Freedom and Liberty for ALL”, “bring us your tired, your hungry, your oppressed, and we shall give them rest”, and on and on…then there would truly be no country greater than the USA!
    So this is why I am proud of, and support my beloved President Obama. He is one of the very few, in my 58-years, who has ever had the courage to stand up in the face of such horrible lies and criticism, and ACT like a true American!
    Ok, so Obama hasn’t quite done EVERYTHING he had said or hoped to do in his first four years. Name me one president who has!! But based on what he HAS done, and the character he has shown, I would be so happy to have him as my president for four more years!