When I was in high school I had some modest political ambitions. Ok, maybe they weren’t so modest. I thought that being a Senator or a justice in the Supreme Court would be good career options for myself. In college and after, I lost my political spark as I grew dissolutioned with our government and its ability to work reasonably or responsibly to address the needs of the citizenry. I quit following national politics other than my impossible-to-break NPR habit. I believed only in local politics and local solutions. I worked to address the needs of my students, my “citizenry”. Then one day I heard the junior Senator from Illinois give the Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and I said to myself, “When he runs for President, I will vote for him.”
Sunday we were part of the roaring crowd of 75,000 people on the waterfront to hear Barack Obama speak. It was a beautiful day and a spectacular turn-out. While Senator Obama has given many a fine speech (see the Call to Renewal Keynote address if you haven’t already), this was not a fine speech. It was merely a great stump speech repeating the message he has consistently given: It’s not too late for America to return to the democratic ideals it was founded upon. It’s not too late to fix our economy, to get out of Iraq, to care for our environment, to work for health reform.
I am not so naive as to believe that Obama will be able to fix all the woes of the federal government if elected. That’s not possible. I am merely encouraged that other Americans care strongly enough that we need a change to vote for Obama, and that vote gives me hope. And that hope revives a modest political ambition for myself: to vote for someone I believe in and for that vote to actually make a difference.
Today is Oregon’s primary. I changed my voter registration so I could vote on the Democrat ticket. I filled out my ballot and walked it down to the library. I fulfilled my modest political ambition. I voted for him.