This is my story, from a Dean supporter in 2004, to traveling around the world, searching for my calling in 2006 and 2007, to supporting Barack Obama today.
In 2003-04, I was an dedicated Deaniac. As the race for President began to heat in during the summer of 2003, I became enthralled with Governor Howard Dean, who truly did represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. I became active in the Dean movement, organizing a Dean for America group at USC, where I was a student, and wasting hours using Dean’s cool web tools. I even was able to attend, free of charge, a Dean fundraiser and see the man in person. I was young, inexperienced in politics, idealistic, and I knew that we were going to change the world.
With one scream, it all came crashing down.
As I look back, I can now see the silver lining. Howard Dean energized the Democratic base as never before, and now I see him as the Barry Goldwater of the Democratic Party; the grassroots driven, straight talking, base-driven candidate who loses the election but changes the party. Just as Goldwater’s ideas seemed ridiculous in 1964 but, a decade later, became the standard Republican party platform, Howard Dean’s “liberal” ideas in 2004 (end the war, Universal health care, fiscal responsibility) has already become the platform of the Democratic Party.
I believe there is only one candidate who will cement the takeover of the Democratic party by the people. Barack Obama.
I still hold a place in my heart for Dean. He spoke to me, I love his stances on the issues, more so than Barack. But in the end, I can’t imagine Dean as President. Barack Obama is, as a candidate, everything that Dean was not – articulate, appealing, energetic, and most importantly, he appeals to Independents, the young, minorities, and Republicans in a way that Dean never did. While in my heart I’ll always choose Dean over Obama, I can imagine Barack Obama as President.
Like many Kossacks, I was devastated in November of 2004. But instead
of wallowing in my own Depression, I made a vow. That in 2008, I wouldn’t let this happen. I would be there, making sure Democrats elected the best candidate, and making sure that candidate became our next President, and take our country in the same direction that Dean would have.
Instead, I decided to learn about our world, and figure out how I could make a difference.
It was then that I first read Dreams of my Father, and realized that Barack’s quest for identity was similar to my own. Never before had I read a political biography that gave the reader such a intimate glimpse of someone’s soul. I was just preparing to depart on a solo, 13 month, low budget, vagabonding yearlong trip around the world, with the aim of learning who I was and determining the state of the world we lived in. I was abroad when Democrats took back the Congress last year. I was abroad when momentum began to build around Barack Obama’s potential Presidential bid. I was abroad when he announced in Springfield, Illinois, that he would seek the Democratic nomination for President.
I visited 28 countries during my trip, and, as any American would expect, the conversations with locals often turned to politics. Intelligent people all around the world follow American politics more closely than many Americans, and when I mentioned my goal of working in the 2008 election against the Republicans, their faces lits up.
“Barack Obama?” they would always ask. Never John Edwards. Rarely Hillary Clinton. Never EVER Rudy Guiliani.
Slowly, I began to realize the potential of an Obama presidency. People all around the world are looking towards America to provide leadership in our integrated, borderless world, and in one candidate they saw someone who would represent them. Barack Obama. A candidate who speaks to those all around the world. Before I even came home, I knew who I would working for, and supporting when the time came. The only candidate who will immediately restore our standing in the world, and the only candidate who understands the realities of our Globalized, 21st century world.
Perhaps I don’t agree with Barack on all the issues. I wish he was stronger on the environment. Yet, when I hear him talk about Global Warming, I know this is a person who won’t ignore overwhelming evidence, yet is open to solution from both sides of the aisle. I wish he would propose single-payer Universal Healthcare, but I know that in his heart, he wants to provide quality health care to all Americans and he won’t rest until he’s achieved it.
I see in Barack the first President of the 21st century, the first candidate who isn’t tied to the battles of the 1960’s but to the battles of a modernizing, global world. That is why I support Barack Obama. Only Obama can be the President of the people; Democrats, Americans, and people worldwide. And only he can move us forward, as one nation united with the world.