My reasons for supporting Barack Obama and Joseph Biden are both political and personal.
Barack Obama is opening up government so that every person has a direct opportunity to bring about change: from pre-emptive war to negotiated peace; from inadequate funding of children’s education to modern, innovative and fully-funded schools and well paid teachers; from economic disparity to economic prosperity and opportunity for all Americans; from a nation that neglects its poor to a nation that protects and provides preventative and curative medical treatment for everyone; from a black-or-white and us-or-them mentality to a policy of inclusivity and open communication; from a ideological opposition to woman’s privacy to a principle backed firmly by constitutional law; from a fear-based rejection of basic civil rights for GLBT to non-biased acceptance of all civil rights for all Americans. Barack Obama is using new technology, including social networks and the internet, to enable us to have an immediate and significant impact on these issues, and to support us in making the changes we know are needed.
On Wednesday, November 3, 2004 I sat at the breakfast table with my then 8-year old son Kentaro and watched his face as I told him that George Bush had won. I did not want to see that look in his eyes again on Wednesday, November 5, 2008. The issues were clear.
In September I spent a weekend in NH canvassing door-to-door. I traveled down from Albany, NY with three other cars full of volunteers. In October I spent another weekend in NH knocking on doors. I spent the 5 days prior the the election in Milford, and on Election Day I was the Poll Captain for Milford, NH. We helped turn Milford blue!
As many times as I've told people how wonderful that day was, I've never written this part of the story before. At around 6:00 PM my director Molly Harris called me to say "We need all of your poll checkers and runners to put in their final numbers and then go to Milford and knock on doors!" Within thirty minutes we had closed up shop, put in our numbers, exchanged hugs all around, and headed out the door.
Ten minutes later I walked into the Milford office and found Anne, one of my checkers, already holding a clipboard. As it was getting dark I suggested we go out together. We got our clip-on flashlight and headed out the door. We walked at a quick pace knowing that the polls were closing in less than two hours. Most people we found at home had voted, and many doors were dark. After an hour of knocking we headed down a side street off of Main and rang an apartment doorbell. A woman dressed in sweats and a t-shirt answered with her 8 year old son by her side.
She had not voted so we enthusiastically asked her to “go vote right now!” She told us she had just moved from FL and was not registered to vote. "You can register right now and vote today! Just go!" we told her, pleading and jumping up and down I'm sure. She then said, I'm sorry, I don't have a car. I can't go.
I looked at her, held my cell phone and said "If I get you a ride right now, if I make a phone call and get someone to drive you over, will you go register and vote right now?"
Her only question: "Will you bring me back?"
One call to the Milford office and someone's parents were on their way to drive her and her son to the polls. She changed out of her sweatpants and waited with us outside with her son. I asked his name. "My name is Angel." I asked if he knew what his mommy was going to do. "She's going to vote for Barack Obama for President!" I took my sticker off my coat and gently placed it on his. Angel looked up at me and said sweetly "Thank you, sir."
Minutes later the car pulled up. Angel's mom hugged me, and I gave Angel a high-five. As they pulled away in the car I knew we were done for the night. We had accomplished what we set out to do. We wouldn't know for a few hours the results, and it would be almost midnight before we could watch together as our new President-elect faced the world with his wife and beautiful family. But for now we had played our part, and at that moment, with Angel driving off with his mother to watch her vote for the very first time ever, we laughed and mussed about the future of that young boy. A future we could now honestly say we had helped to create.
We needed a change in leadership. I was born in 1962, in an era of hope for the future. On Friday, November 22, 1963 the path of hope was altered. I know that Barack Obama has reignited that hope, and that with him as President our future can be changed from its current course.