Sunday, June 10, 2007

"Barack Obama and the audacity of my hope (confessions of a former Republican)"

Sue Emmett on BlueOregon:
I am a life-time Oregonian, born and raised in Portland, now back in Portland after 25 years in Salem (love this city!). I grew up in a VERY Republican home, and in a religion that virtually required “Republican” on your precinct card to be on the rolls. I was white, I was middle-class, and everyone in my family's social circle was a dedicated conservative.
But I have hope in Barack Obama.

How did I get from “there” to “here”? How did a believer in uber-conservative Republican values and policies for over 50 years come to change her political registration three years ago? How did I get to this place wherein I proudly wear an Obama button, and plaster bumper stickers on my car for maybe the second time in my life!

Even as a young child, social activism was brewing deep inside me. I was often in trouble for asking questions and talking about “issues” that made others uncomfortable. And... I attended multi-racial Washington High School in the 50's – which I still consider a privilege in my life. Whites, Blacks, Chinese, Japanese – we were far ahead of our time. We were in clubs together, we served in school politics together, we led cheers on the rally squads together, and we played sports together. Yes, as a white girl, I really didn't have a clue about the black kids, but for those times, we were FAR past the prejudices of our parents. Blacks were still being lynched in the South, and we were having integrated slumber parties – and never gave it a second thought!

I spent the next 30+ years living the conservative, right-wing life that my parents and my religion had inculcated in me. But all those years failed to produce a complete and mindless neo-con. I was definitely “in the closet” – a liberal at heart, faking her Stepford-like allegiance to all things conservative. I even convinced myself – yet, I never voted a straight party ticket except when required to do so by Oregon's primary rules.

Fast forward to the first “Bush” election. I voted for George Bush (she says, head lowered in shame). By the middle of that first four years, I was coming to terms with my life-long affliction! When the talk began of invading Iraq, I knew I was done! I was against the war from the very beginning, and within weeks had changed my registration to Democrat in order to find a political community that more closely mirrored my beliefs about many issues. I started to get involved in volunteering, and today I find myself with an audacity of hope because of the candidacy of Barack Obama.

There is no point in hashing over all of the mindless, self-serving, criminal and unconstitutional acts that have occurred with the present administration. Coupled with the complete hijacking of the Republican Party by the Fundamentalist Christians, we are staring down a tunnel of despair and fear. I believe the only thing that is going to put this country back to some semblance of being a “beacon of hope” for it's own citizens (as well as the world) is a leader who has the skills to bring people together, the diversity in his background to make him credible to the world, and the intelligence to see through the manipulations that take place in Washington D.C.

That's why I have hope in Barack Obama.

After studying his life, hearing his speeches, and getting a sense of the depth of his character, I have come to the conclusion that maybe – just maybe – a leader has finally appeared who can bring people together, and mend the wounds that George Bush has caused throughout the world.

When I view the videos of his rallies, and see the faces of all colors showing up because of the hope this man has generated, I remember my days at ole' Wa-Hi, where I learned that diversity was a gift -- and I have hope that with Barack's leadership this country has a chance to heal from many wounds. I have the audacity to hope that this country will become a different place if this man is elected, and I have dedicated whatever time and money I can give to his campaign.

Join me and some other ardent Oregon supporters of Obama who have organized a fund-raising event to be held on June 28th at McMenamins – Edgefield. Meet people from all parts of Portland who have this same hope. If you'd like to join us for a great evening, link here to get information and sign up.



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