Thursday, October 30, 2008

A champion for a new age

Watching Barack Obama's 30-minute commercial last night, and being so deeply impressed once again by his grace and strength, compassion and vision, a parallel came to me out of Silksinger, so I want to share a brief passage with you and explain a little bit what this candidate means to me, what this potential presidency means to me. It might seem a little overwrought to you, but I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

So, for context, there is a character in Silksinger named Hirik, a young faerie who dreams of becoming a Djinn's champion like Magpie Windwitch. He's keeping his dream a secret as he works his way across the great Sayash mountains (the Himalayas) as a mercenary on a dragonfly caravan, trying to reach the city of Nazneen, where he plans to search for the lost Djinn called the Azazel. During the journey, the threat of devil attack looms. . .

Well, he told himself resolutely, if he wanted to be champion, he would come to know plenty of devils -- they would be his life, in large part, as he worked to rid the world of them like the Magruwen’s champion did.

But it wasn’t all about hunting and capture, being champion. A new age was dawning, and the return of the Djinn meant the awakening of wonder, as it had been awakened halfway round the world in Dreamdark. The new age would be about magic and purpose and beauty. About building. Not just clinging on to the tattered hem of the ancient world, but making a new one. And how he wanted that!

The thing is, Hirik is a lad who wants to be champion for the right reasons. He has a vision for a bright new age for his people, and he wants to help make it a reality. He's not in it for the glory or the title; he's not in it just for himself. Corny or not, that's how I see Barack Obama. He has a plan and a vision, he has the brains and the temperment and the goodness to lead this country to a new era: an age of green, sustainable energy, and a huge new economy based on green, sustainable energy; a new age of diplomacy and regaining world respect; renewed respect for our Constitution and our civil liberties here at home; a new rise of the American middle-class, like the one we saw after WWII, with good jobs created and protected here, with a move toward affordable health care and college tuition. Barack Obama believes all this is possible and more, and I believe he will fight tirelessly to accomplish these goals, to make America stronger -- "not just clinging to the tattered hem of the old world, but making a new one."

McCain belongs to the old world, Obama to the new. When you watch Obama speak, he exudes hope and strength. McCain and Palin? They exude something very different: sarcasm, devisiveness, and lies. Their entire campaign is based on lies and mischaracterizations, attempts to deceive their supporters with rhetoric. They cry "terrorist!" and "socialist!" and suggest Obama is not a legal US citizen; they've got a plumber on the campaign trail now saying that an Obama presidency would signal the death of Israel -- so egregious a claim that even a Fox News reporter finds it frightening (video #1 below). I listen to their rallies, and they spend all their time on the attack, repeating lies that have long ago been discredited. There is a nastiness to everything they say, a sneering kind of bitchiness. McCain puts dismissive air quotes around "health of the mother," on abortion issues, and mocks Obama's concern for the environment on nuclear power (video #2 below, and this one astonishes me -- he actually says, mimicking Obama, "It has to be safe. . . environment. . . blah blah blah--" He actually says "blah blah blah," dismissing the idea of environmental safety in the most belittling way, and the crowd goes WILD. Just WILD. Like they're dogs that want to rip the damned environment apart with their teeth. Wha. . .? *Laini confused.*)

I tend to be a fatalist about the environment, believing that humanity lacks the will to come together to save this planet from the greed of corrupt corporations, or to stop the merciless onslaught of poverty and population explosion that make the environmental crusade seem like such a lost cause. But I do believe that Barack Obama genuinely still believes there's hope, and how magnificent would it be to be a part of the generation that finally sets out to do what needs to be done, to try to keep Earth habitable by our undeserving selves? Because that IS what this is about. This whole "environment blah blah blah" isn't just about polar bears and spotted owls, it's about the air we breathe and the water we drink, it's about the fragile balance of all life on this planet - including US. One candidate cares deeply about it, the other mocks it.

There's nothing positive, nothing hopeful or beautiful or uplifting about the McCain campaign, just this pervasive nastiness, with its ever-present undertone of racism. "He's not like us." It's not just the campaign, of course, it's the supporters, but this is part of my point: what do you want to be a part of? Do you want to be part of "building the new age," or of "clinging to the tattered hem of the old"? Part of the movement of hope? Or the campaign of lies and sarcasm and insidious McCarthyism?

Please don't leave me a comment supporting McCain. I honestly don't want to hear it, and I don't want to spend my day being frustrated or carefully phrasing replies. Your vote is your business; I'm not telling you how to vote, I'm just identifying what to ME are the two camps one can choose at this critical point in our nation's story.

If you didn't see the Obama commercial last night, it's video #3 below. It's part I, but there's a link in the bottom that allows you to click through to the rest of it as you go. Four families are featured as a way of illustrating his plans on the economy, health care, and other issues for helping working people. It's very moving, and honestly, there was a swelling in my heart as I watched it, this unmistakably buoyancy of hope. Here's a man who understands, and who cares, and who actually wants to be president for the right reasons. It isn't often a politician comes along who has the good heart and altruism to want to change the world for the better AND the strength of character to make it happen. Such a man is before us now.

Video 1 -- Joe the Plumber with Shep Smith on Fox:
Video 2 -- McCain on "safe for the environment blah blah blah":
Video 3 -- Obama commercial:

[P.S. This still is not my post on being liberal. That's yet to come.]


Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Your posts inspire me, too! Isn't it lovely to feel the groundswell of hope again? To be excited for an election? I can't wait!!


rebecca said...

Every time I hear this man speak, he moves me. Last night was no different. I think he is destined for greatness and his composure and intelligent way he has handled this campaign against everything that the McCain/Palin camp has thrown at him, is a very big indicator of the type of leader he is. How can you not watch that and be impressed by it? I think he will command more respect by leaders around around the world (as he already does for a multitude of people here in the US), just by the quiet and composed way he handles himself and issues, more than McCain or Palin ever would. These two "mavericks" are nothing but loose, dangerous cannons. The U.S. needs to bring itself up globally as a powerful country once again with a formidable leader at the helm, and that leader is Obama.

Seeing him last night moved me and I commented to my husband that he is this generation's MLK.

If he doesn't win, Laini, I think it will be another Florida situation and I will just cry....just sit and bawl my eyes out.

lily green said...

The first part of your post gave me chills Laini! (the good kind) Hope is incredibly powerful and can bring about amazing changes. I think it is that unabashed message of hope that has moved record numbers of people to participate in this election (me included). I'm looking forward to voting tomorrow -- the lines to vote have been insanely long, which is heartening indeed.

S R Wood said...

We had two robo-calls yesterday. The first, from the McCain campaign, talked all about how Obama's plans and Obama himself were bad for the country, anti-patriotic and elitist. The second, from the Obama campaign, was a simple and non-hyperbolic reminder to watch the TV special, to learn for ourselves what Obama could mean for this country, and then to visit the Obama website to learn more.

Hysteria and hope. Spitefulness and belief. Attack or build.

As Obama said: "You don't need to boo. Just vote." Thunderous applause.

Every vote is a brick that builds the stairway to help us all climb out of a very dark and bad place.

Kate Robertson said...

I loved your post and I agree. That clip of Shep Smith was a little scary. I saw it on the Daily show. I thought the infomercial was wonderful. I am proud to be supporting Obama.


Anonymous said...

I read that 78% of French people would vote for Obama. What the freaky poo is wrong with Americans that this is even a close election at all?


liz elayne lamoreux said...


(do you think shep smith is going to vote for obama? it almost seemed like he might after that moment at the end of the video. i CANNOT BELIEVE [sorry, i had to shout, i just HAD TO SHOUT] what mccain's camp put out about joe's "analysis" of the situation. as my brother would say, "W.T.F.?" deep breath. thanks for spreading the good news laini. jon sent in his vote today. i am voting tuesday and cannot wait. i keep singing that dixie chicks song "i hope" over and over as i look to next tuesday.)

tone almhjell said...

Poor Joe the Plumber, ruthlessly exploited by the McCain campaign. As a journalist, I would say that Joe is the kind of person you might want to protect a bit. It is unfair to throw people who don't know what they are talking about in front of a tv camera (And no, this does not apply to Sarah Palin, who after all wants to be elected Vice President). And yet, Joe sort has to deal with this, and the press have to deal with him, because the McCain campaign pushes him to the front, bringing him up on stage with Palin, commenting on, and thus lending weight to his statements about things he obviously doesn't know anything about.

I feel sorry for him. I almost feel sorry for McCain who would resort to this, embarrasing a (probably) nice chap in front of millions of people like this.

It really is quite cruel, and that is why you see such a surprising interview on Fox TV. It's too much to stomach, for any reporter.

kendalee said...

That clip of McCain gave me chills - again. Apart from the frightening 'blah, blah, blah' thing isn't it bizarre how he uses 'eloquent' as an insult?! What?!?! Since when is that a bad thing?

I always come away from hearing Obama speak feeling inspired and hopeful. And believing that there's substance too.

Oh, I have not wanted to cast a vote this much since the 1994 elections in South Africa. The world needs inspiring, transformational people like Mandela and Obama. Unfortunately in this case I can only look on and hope... Hope that there are enough people like you out there Laini, who will cast theirs!

Lisa Schroeder said...

I really, really, REALLY love this post. A lot. You nailed it. "McCain belongs to the old world, Obama to the new."That is exactly it. And if we continue to try and stay in the old world out of fear or denial or whatever, there will be no world left. I wish more people would understand that.

Anonymous said...

I just signed up to canvass for the Obama campaign. I am so excited!!! Thanks Laini for all of your posts. If we don’t win this I will crawl up into a ball and cry. Just a note on green energy, my engineer husband works for a company that is frantically trying to get a new solar dish out on the market. They have more demand for the product than they are able to handle. Spain is one of the big purchasers right now. Obama is right about how becoming the leading developers of green energy can save our country (economy, foriegn relations) not to mention our planet. There is hope for a new world.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Laini - check out today's entry on swivet - something I think you will enjoy - its funny :)


Andrea Eames said...

Our elections in New Zealand take place this Saturday, but we are all far more excited about the elections in the US. Obama is an inspiring figure, and the world is rooting for him.

As a Zimbabwean, to me it is particularly hope-filled to see a leader like this on the world stage.

Amber said...

Well said.

As you WELL know, I did not come over lightly. lol! I really, really did try to look at all sides with an open mind. And I still can say that although I don't embrace all of the ideas of the left, I think it became clear that the idea that you bring up here, was the point: What did I want to be a part of?

Although I don't think McCain is a bad person, or should not be respected...I do respect him...But I came to believe in the person that Obama is. I trust him. I don't think he is going to lead from the left, I think he is going to lead as a moderate. And I believe that at this time, his PERSON is what we need. He is just what we need right now.

I am also a fatalist in a way. But in teh way, that I just think the world is really on the edge of changes...As an astrologer, we are only now really coming into the Age of Aquarius. Aquarius is all about "the greater good" and big vision. Aquarius is also about making right the wrongs and mistakes that we made in other ages. Kind of like "paying the piper".

I know you aren't into all that, but it makes my point. In my mind, everything is changing, and the change in the world will continue for a long time. Obama is just too perfect an achetype for this change, to be an "accident". No.


[a} said...

I agree with you, Obama seems like a great sincere guy, but I'm not American, so I'm neutral.

Either way, they're going to attack & lie about & malign & bomb my country to bits (Bush has already attacked some provinces & done plenty of airstrikes and whatnot), and that's all I need to know.

Wyman Stewart said...

Thanks Laini for inspiring a blogpost on my blogpage about that cranky old fellow McCain. Actually, cranky old men, of which McCain is only one. For you or anyone who wishes to see it the link is Inspiration is not always about agreeing, but is about listening to others. I think this is what brings me back to your blogsite. The title is Election Day's End, if Yahoo will permit it to be found. Again, thank you for a nice inspiration.