In 2008, I was faced with an interesting election. On one hand, I had John McCain, a man I had adored for 8 years, a man I had eagerly campaigned for as a teenager, volunteered, made phone calls for and read his every speech. On the other hand, I had Barack Obama, a man I knew nothing about. I knew that he had been a state senator for a handful of years and just 4 years prior, he had moved up to the US Senate. Surely, only a couple of years of major government experience is not enough, I said. On top of that, I had grown increasingly uncomfortable with his… fandom, for lack of a better term. A very zealous lot, I was left uncomfortable with the cult of personality that grew around him. So, when Election Day, I voted for a candidate whose I was comfortable with and someone I knew very well. That candidate lost.
Determined not to sit in sour grapes, I decided I would see what this new guy could do. I would view him skeptical and I’d be free with the criticism as he deserved it. And yes, the first couple of years, I was very harsh with Barack Obama. Always be harsh and critical of a first term President in the first 100 days. That’s his crucible. Over time, I realized he had it in his heart to be genuinely interested in the common good, even if I didn’t always agree with his politics. I respected that like my previous hero McCain, he spent his time being as bipartisan as possible, even in an overwhelming hostile environment. His detractors claim he was some evil Muslim, but his kindness and his willing to turn the other cheek (something I see very few politicians, Democrat and Republican do) are the true hallmarks of a good Christian. In time, he earned my trust as I suspect he did for many a moderate.
Then Romney came around and he ran his platform on fear. Fear of Obama, fear of the world that supported him, fear of other people, fear of other cultures. And the media, being the media, fed on this and gave it to the people. No politician should ever run a campaign like this, even though every single one of them does. But not Obama. Yes, his followers went ahead and spread fear into every corner that they could, using all of Romney’s tactics but Barack Obama, the man, kept his hands clean of it, condemning when it was appropriate. Did Barack Obama make a lot of mistakes during his presidency? Sure, he did. Benghazi was a nightmare and one that will stay with him. Do you think he doesn’t sit in his office and not think about what he could have done differently? He’s only human and humans make mistakes. I forgive him.
Meanwhile, I surrounded myself with people of both walks of life, liberal and conservative, Tea Party and Occupy, Democrat and Republican. I listened to their stories. I let them make their cases to me. I examined each and every perspective and asked myself which was the right one or if neither was, where was the truth between it?
The bottom line is, at the end of the day, I felt that Barack Obama was the better man for the job than Mitt Romney, and even though I’m a lifelong Republican, I did not feel wrong to acknowledge the better man in this and cast my vote for him. I’m not as emotionally invested in him or this election as you all are, so I’m not screaming my head off in happiness or anger, but I am pleased that the better choice was made.
So congratulations, Barack Obama, you have hard earned my trust and please, don’t let us down.