I really do try to keep my political rants here at a minimum (that's what the MOMocrats Facebook page is for). But it's been hard to do, especially now when the polls show a race that's a virtual tie.
I'm a lifelong Democrat, so the candidate I choose is no surprise. What I want to do here is describe my reasons for supporting Barack Obama -- without the lens of Democratic party loyalty or my antipathy to GOP policy and Mitt Romney.
1. Barack Obama inspires me.
I am not just talking about his oratorical skills -- although I suppose there was some truth to John McCain's charge in 2008 that Obama was a celebrity. There is a definite rock star quality to his best speeches. Obama's best speeches make me feel the same way I did when I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert back in the day: high on the music and the lyrics and filled with hope for the future.
But I'm talking about his larger-than-life personal story, which is filled with the stuff that makes a good character in a novel: A mixed-race middle class kid from Hawaii, son of a single mom -- works hard in school, winds up the first African-American editor of Harvard Law Review... could have earned a fortune at a major law firm but chooses a life of public service. He sees that he could do more for more people by becoming a legislator -- and eventually, President of the United States.
When I was a child, my Cuban immigrant mother told me that the wonderful thing about this country is that anyone could grow up and become President. Even me. But really -- back in the 1960s, did anyone think a woman could really grow up to be President? How about an African-American?
But besides the oratory and personal story: Barack and Michelle Obama aren't "do as I say, not as I do" people. They are not offering hollow platitudes, like "a thousand points of light." The Presidency began with a national day of service, and the Obamas have instituted repeat events throughout the term. They don't just pay lip service to supporting our troops: Michelle Obama and Jill Biden have quietly and personally worked military families since before the election. And the President has supported legislation and signed executive orders to bolster the services offered our veterans through the VA.
2. Michelle Obama Inspires Me
I mentioned the First Lady in the previous paragraph. She showed off speechmaking skills of her own at our recent convention. She has also exhibited grace under extraordinary and unfair criticism: over her clothing choices, her body type, her decision to adopt fighting childhood obesity as her First Lady cause (really?? healthy eating is controversial now? WTF?).
Again, she didn't just tape PSA's telling kids about silly food pyramids. She planted an organic garden on the White House grounds, which now a source of fresh produce for the First Family's meals. She urged families and kids to be more active, and famously showed off her push-up prowess on shows like Ellen (for which she was also criticized).
I could go on -- but I feel I've already strayed, as I stated I would tell you the reasons I'm voting for the President (and we don't vote for the First Lady -- she's just a bonus).
3. President Obama Kept His Promises
Candidates make a lot of promises during their campaigns. It would be nice if those promises came with disclaimers, like "if Congress cooperates" or "this is just a case of cynical pandering to get your vote."
PolitiFact has been tracking the promises the President made in 2008 and how many were kept. As of now, that number is 38%, with an additional 21% in the works - plus 15% where he could not get the deal he wanted and had to settle for a compromise. So he either fulfilled or made progress on 64% of the promises he made during his campaign. When you consider the extraordinary resistance he got from Congress, I think that's an amazing record.
4. President Obama Supports Women
I hate one-issue politics. There is nothing simple about our country, so I don't want to base my vote on just one thing. But I loved it when President Obama had the opportunity to appoint Supreme Court justices and both his candidates were women -- which tripled the number of females who are weighing in on cases now. His domestic agenda is heavy with the issues that concern me and other women: healthcare (including access to contraception and reproductive rights), education, college funding, infrastructure (you don't worry about your kids traveling on some of those crumbling bridges? Mine just got her driver's license! I care!).
5. President Obama Is a True and Successful Leader
I spent a lifetime staying out of the political fray. I voted, but I did not think my vote mattered one way or the other, that the country would carry on no matter who was President.
Then we invaded Iraq for no good reason, while we still had not finished the job we had started (for a very good reason) in Afghanistan. And the world made up their mind that America wasn't to be trusted. By 2008, international opinion of the US was pretty bad. I felt it whenever I visited my husband's family in the UK. Hell, I read it in their newspapers and heard it from the people I encountered. And that's from the country that's our closest ally.
The President and his team, led by Hillary Clinton, have done a very good job of assuaging international fear of US power - even while undertaking a campaign of drone attacks that are hurting our enemies in Al Qaeda but also causing civilian casualties.
Like many people on the left, I find the drones disturbing. You see, I don't think the President is perfect, and I don't agree with everything his Administration has done. But in balance -- I cannot think of anyone who could successfully handle the economic situation and international climate that greeted Barack Obama on his first day. He has made the right decisions, kept us from falling into the abyss... and needs another term to finish the job.
And I will do everything in my power to help him do that.