Super Tuesday 2008 is tomorrow, and it remains to be seen if it will truly be a decisive day in the race for President this year. Irregardless of who captures the Republican nomination (a race which I regard as peculiar at best...my humble opinion on that side is basically "anyone but Romney"), the Democratic side promises to be a real contest for the first time in perhaps a generation. And this year, remarkably, our choices are a white woman and an African American man. Any way you look at it, no matter who you are for, it's a stunning achievement for the country. To be a part of this moment in our nation's history has been somewhat emotional for me; when I realize that both of these people have not just a chance, but a good chance of being the next leader of the free world, when all of our previous leaders have been old white Christian men, I get a little choked up. Admittedly this has meant that I am getting choked up more and more as the big day approaches, and now it's almost here.
That said, my emotions are balanced whenever I meet someone who is surprised that I am supporting Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. I went to an Obama rally yesterday at UCLA, which was led by several women who I greatly respect and admire: Caroline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey, Barack's wife Michelle, and - a surprise to all of us there - Maria Shriver. I think Oprah put it best when she described conversations she had with women who accused her of "betraying" her gender. Oprah said, to paraphrase, "yes, I'm a woman. I'm a free woman, which means I get to decide who I want to support. It also means I get to change my mind." She said that last part to emphasize that women need not feel beholden to Hillary Clinton simply because we share X chromosomes.
Michelle Obama speaking in front of a poster of her husband at UCLA, Sunday, February 3, 2008
Do I think it's historic that Hillary Clinton is running for president, and does part of me feel obligated to support her because of that? Well, yes, of course. We share experiences because we share estrogen, and if her hormones are anything like mine (wretched things), then I REALLY have a lot of empathy for her life's path. However, I'd like to think that I am also a woman of intelligence and perspective, and when I put them next to each other, I feel that Barack Obama is the right person at the right time for this country. I'm not saying that because anyone told me to....clearly this is my own blog and I can say whatever I want. I'm saying it because I've evaluated both candidates carefully, and I've heard both speak about their goals and dreams for the nation. When I hear Hillary speak, I think of the past, and the trying times we went through with her husband at the helm. Even the fond memories I have of Bill Clinton as President are tempered by the qualms I have about their personal business deals and questionable donors. When I hear Barack Obama speak, I think of the future....and it occurs to me that although we've been through some really rough times in this decade, with Obama as president, we might actually be able to heal all of the bonds that we've shattered and make real progress on issues like global warming, which I care so much about. I said it before many months ago, and I'll say it again now: Obama inspires me.....and, if you'll notice the header of this blog, I'm all about inspiration.
I wonder a lot about high-profile women who endorsed Hillary Clinton, women like Maria Cantwell, and Debbie Stabenow, and Dianne Feinstein and others easily seen in this NY Times graphic. I wonder if they've put up a mental block towards Obama because they can't get past their fear that women's time to lead will pass if Hillary doesn't win. I, on the other hand, have no doubt that there will be many inspiring women capable of leading America, more in my lifetime even. And we must thank Hillary Clinton for making that realization possible, even if it's not her time. But now, on the eve of this Super Tuesday 2008, even with several months of campaigning left before the entire country casts its votes for the new President, we need to ask ourselves: can we look past everything that separates us to believe in the one person who might be able to unite us? I say, yes, we can.