Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Candidate or Catalyst?

I walked away from the polls today realizing that I had never before wrestled this much with choosing a Presidential candidate. The results and whether or not I voted for the one that actually wins is less relevant to me than having my singular voice heard and counted.

Having never been well versed with history or politics, trying to engage in an intelligent political conversation would just make me look silly. I've always strayed away from politics-as-usual because the smell of conflict and tension makes me cringe. I'm tired of the same ole red vs. blue debates. I hold no loyalty to either party and so it had always seemed better to me to tune out.

However, change is in the air and I'm tuning in. I welcome change because I have changed. My world view has changed and that has affected the lens in which I use to answer many questions: How do I live a lifestyle of faith? How do I experience myself and my relationships authentically? How do I respond to injustice? How do I love others more fully?

My paradigm shift over these past several years has gradually led me to a natural interest and participation in public policy because I want to live in a country (world) that respects and allows me to explore those questions without the mixed messages that communicate "you are an equal unless you want to be different". I think it's important to be involved in the process because I want to be part of the culture shift. So now is the time to cast my vote to be part of catalyzing that change . . . .

I oscillated back and forth today between the two democratic candidates that represented change. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I voted for Bush . . . twice. Yeah, I've changed in recent years. But today being Super-Duper Amazing Tuesday (as my friend Ross called it) in the delegate-rich California, I went through the entire day undecided about how I was going to vote. I had been inclined towards Barack for his inspirational presence for months but in the last two weeks I couldn't ignore the experience that Hillary brings to the forefront.

Both represent change. Both represent me, in certain ways. But i've also found points or issues that I don't completely subscribe to from both candidates. I'm learning that that's okay. It'd be arrogant of me to feel like the best candidate for President of the United States is the one that holds my issues and positions as if my opinion and perspective is the best one for the country. No, i've got much to learn.

I weighed both candidates all day. I inquired with friends and those I respect about how they were inclined. I examined both their web sites and each of their claims on positions they take on issues. Plus here and minus there. Plus there and minus here. Less than an hour before polls closed, I saw strengths and weaknesses in both candidates and still had not yet decided. Reading up on their issues and background didn't help me make a decision. And I stepped into my poll booth not knowing how I was going to vote.

So I decided not to simply vote for the candidate - the black man or the white woman. Both have plans and strategies that could work and both surround themselves with advisors with a wealth of experience. Instead I decided to vote for the catalyst - the one who spoke my language, the one who could inspire the nation onto its feet to move itself. At the end of this (Super Duper Amazing) day, I don't need my candidate to have all the answers to the problems - just one that will show me that I can be part of the solution.

5 comments:

Steve said...

You very carefully manage to avoid saying who you voted for; which is wise perhaps! I had the a very similar difficulty deciding and I suspect from what you said that we voted for the same person. On the way to the polls still undecided, I suddenly remembered a speech that the one who became "my candidate" had made a few years ago which had hit me at the time as very inspirational and even catalyzing (though I didn't think of that word at the time!), and when I stopped to reflect on how this speech had been so inspiring,I realized my choice was more obvious than I had been thinking.

Brandon said...

Ah, so you voted for Obama then? :)

Ross said...

That is the most frustrating thing I've read all day!

suspense, man!

Steve said...

haha! You never fail to surprise me, Eric. I put off reading this because I figured it was just another Obama endorsement. I've read so many of those. I even wrote one myself! But this was something original.

Pete said...

I'm still getting over the fact that you voted for Huckabee....