Thursday, July 3, 2008

barak obama

I have an unusual perspective on the US presidential race, being on the other side of the world. I am living in a country where people take hope for granted.

I hadn’t realized how scared all of us are in the US until I’d been here a few weeks, and it began to feel like I was being cured of some long-lasting illness. And I mean real physical cures: my stomach unknotted, the headaches that I took for granted went away, my back stopped hurting, I had more energy, I slept better.

People here in Australia are, on the remarkable whole, not very stressed. It’s amazing. It’s so natural and obvious and right that it’s hard to write about. It’s like writing about unpolluted air. Not much to say about it other than it tastes good and you can see farther. Most people here are just happy, confident, and at ease. It’s almost disturbing.

Why is there such a difference between living in these two countries? I’m sure there are hundreds of factors, but a lot of it seems to come down to the excellent social services provided by the Australian government: excellent health care, including mental health care; excellent schools; assistance for caring for the elderly and for people with disabilities; clean, efficient, and prevalent public transportation; first-home-buying grant; job placement services; unemployment benefits you can actually live on; and much more. If you have all of that at your back, what is there to be deeply stressed about?

Seeing all of these superb services, provided by a country that has significantly less economic and natural resources than the US, gives me great hope. People of the US, we don’t have to be so unhappy, so fearful, so cynical, so distrusting, so unsupported all the time: It doesn’t have to be that way!

And Barack Obama understands that things can be better. That’s why I’m voting for him. I don’t think he’s some sort of political saviour, as some suggest, but he is bringing an important and powerful message at a crucial time: hope and change. He is reminding us that the US can be so much more than it is right now, and that we can work together to make it so. That we, as citizens, have both the ability and the responsibility to take charge of our country. That we are not powerless, but instead that we, ourselves, hold great power. He is telling us “yes,” he is speaking with love, which feels like breathing again after so many years of hatred and “no.”

I know that this is what everyone talks about: his message of change. “What about his policies? What about the issues?” you might ask. Well, he’s pretty good on the issues: I like a lot, but not all, of his proposed policies (see below for more info). But to me, what’s more important is the bedrock on which he intends to build those policies: a focus on the people of the US, especially those most in need. You can’t effect drastic policy change without changing the fundamental concepts of governance on which they stand. Obama is proposing a paradigm shift that excites me: the policies can follow, and will necessarily be more just because of their improved context.

One excellent example of this is Obama’s refusal to accept big-business, lobbyist, and governmental funding for his campaign. He does not want to be beholden to any organizations whose mission he does not support. This shows a sincere effort in the right direction: toward empowering and serving the people of the United States.

I encourage you to donate to Obama’s campaign now, and move America one step closer to being a country we can be proud of again.

For more information:

For a well-researched comparison of the two candidates on some big political issues, check out the Boston Globe.

To see how the race is going, check out the continually-updated button on the right-hand sidebar, and visit this excellent graph.

Obama's One Nation speech:

Emmy-award-winning Yes We Can music video by of The Black Eyed Peas, narrated by Obama's New Hampshire primary speech:

For another excellent Obama video, visit here.