Oct 30, 2008

Who I would vote for if I could vote

When I first heard Obama, on TV, giving an interview, back in 2007, I thought he sounded calm, smart, reasonable, psychologically grounded, and pretty much unelectable. People like that don't get to be president, I told myself. Don't go there. Well, we almost are there and its not just the fact that Obama is sprinkling his speeches with a little of the old glitter (hope, change, unity) that's making me step back a bit. The election is going to be over in a few days, and already I'm beginning to feel the wrench. I've been obsessing about this thing for over a year now, consuming poll and blogs like porn, watching TV around the clock, rabbiting on to my wife about what Obama did today or what he said today. "Its like living with a 17 year old girl," she told me once, as I nailed a new poster in place. "It's like Eliott and ET. When ET is happy Eliott is happy, when ET is sad, Eliott is sad."

I wish. According to aides, he has raised his voice twice in the last year. Twice. If I was enjoying a Vulcan mind-mild with the guy I would be flat-lining through the whole thing, rather than wobbling and veering and fretting and pacing. But it's true: I actually smile when he comes on TV. I can recognise his voice from two rooms away and will drop whatever I am doing to go and sit patiently in front of the TV to await instruction. Which is mortifying to me, obviously. I'm not normally in the habit of forming crushes on politicians. My phoniness-meter is as sensitive as the next man's. I think that all power corrupts, and absolute power etc etc. I believe that all politicians lie, even if they appear to be levelling with you. In fact, they lie most at exactly at the moment they tell you they're levelling with you. I think most appeals to 'integrity' and 'authenticity' are bogus.

So how did Obama get through? Why have I been trained like a gun dog on getting this man elective office? It certainly helps that I think he's right, 70% of the time. The recallibration of foreign policy. The progressive tax plan. The exhortations towards a green economy. The promise of transparency in government. But let's be honest: there are large swathes of policy on which I have little or no opinion. A federally-executed healthcare plan? From ten years living in this country, that my memories of the NHS are a rosy dream of bliss compared to the expensive monthly scam I am subjected to here. But is America simply too big a country to offer healthcare as a "right"? I have no idea.

What I do know is that Presidential campaigns are long for a reason: you get to see what a person is made of. How they conduct themselves in adversity. How they respond to triumph. Whether they have a game-plan or whether they're simply reactive creatures, pinballing off events. Over the last year, I have seen Obama resist the impulse to lie, or fight dirty, enough times to basically trust the guy. For most of the primaries and the general election campaign, he has seemed the only adult in the race — steady, calm, responsible. Sometimes, I think that in many ways he has already begun to lead this country. He has dominated the political agenda for the past year, elevated the tone of the debate, dictated much of Bush's recent foreign policy. He has had as much impact as one man can have on a country, without actually being elected president. Like iron filings milling towards a magnet, the country has already reorganised itself around him. When his opponents talk of his 'presumptuousness' they are picking up on something real, but it is not his presumption: it is the vacuum at the heart of this democracy that is already straining to fill itself. All we need to do now is vote for the guy.


  1. Agree with the entire Obama blog. Health care for this country is possible but I do not think it will happen because the insurance companies are too powerful. They stand to lose a lot of money - and no institution gives that up easily. I have some reservations about the bureaucracy that would be engendered. With the right leader and competent physician & nursing input - it is possible.

  2. This is a brilliant blog. And it is like living with a 17 year old girl sometimes, but in a really good way.

  3. Outstanding blog capturing the true heart of the word "faith" and "hope".