Obama leads ‘movement of hope’

By on February 6, 2008

Two Fridays ago, my friend Ben Traverse left work after a long day at the office. He got in his car and rather than undoing his tie and heading over to Georgetown to find some happiness at Happy Hour, he drove down Independence Avenue connecting to I-395.

Just as he crested the middle of the bridge that crosses the Potomac, all of Washington would have appeared behind him. The Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the White House; all glowing in the soft light that casts its golden evening hue over our nation’s capital. That Friday night Ben Traverse was heading for South Carolina. Here’s Ben’s story and his pitch for Barack Obama.

Last weekend, I went to South Carolina where I witnessed a movement; a movement of hope led by Senator Barack Obama, who sees America in a way all of us know deep down in our hearts.

I drove through the night last Friday, from Washington to Columbia, to volunteer for a man who I believe can change America and the world. I knocked on doors in a “Get Out The Vote” effort that took me to neighborhoods I had never seen before in these United States – all houses the same: small, dull brick, unkempt yard, chipped sidewalk, unpaved driveway, poor. I met folks living in houses that looked abandoned, but to them, were a place called home. These folks didn’t let their homes fall into disrepair because they don’t give a damn, but because they don’t have the money or, more importantly, the time to take care of what’s important in life. These folks, like those of us more fortunate, return from a long, hard day of work, only to be forced to sacrifice spending time with family and friends, relaxing, cherishing life, in order to do the laundry, mow the yard, cook dinner, or pay the bills. Then, like many of us, these folks wake up to a broken government, broken healthcare system, broken wages, broken gas prices, or a good friend, son or daughter, niece or nephew, brother or sister, fighting and dying in a broken war overseas.

Last Saturday, these folks overwhelmingly voted against the status quo and for Senator Obama.

The status quo I speak of is one that dates back roughly two decades. It’s a status quo that defines success by the other side’s failure, cares more about political welfare than people’s well-being, has brought government progress to a stalemate, and will say, do, or walk all over anything or anyone to rise to the top. This status quo was born through Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and the “Republican Revolution,” in a feud full of responsibility on all parts. This status quo is still alive and well in the Bush Administration and the campaigns of Senator Obama’s opponents.

The Clintons and the Republicans respond to Senator Obama’s message of hope by saying he’s inexperienced and has dreams beyond reality. But, we must remember that the same criticism didn’t stop John Kennedy from running for President and taking us to the moon. It didn’t stop Robert Kennedy from following his brother’s legacy.

It didn’t stop Dr. King from going to Montgomery. It didn’t stop hundreds of thousands from marching against Vietnam.

There is no doubt that the Clinton “experience” brought us peace and prosperity, but it also polarized the nation in a way people have not forgotten – red/blue, black/white, religious/secular. The Clintons know how to respond to the Republican attack machine because they’re experts at revving it up. How are they honestly supposed to heal a divided nation?

And, isn’t healing our differences the most important issue this year? For how are we supposed to accomplish anything without building diverse coalitions that surpass our differences?

The fact is, our votes in the upcoming electoral contests rebuke the status quo. This election is the past versus the future. If you believe in a better tomorrow, then there is no choice but to vote for Barack Obama.


About Gunnar Heinrich and Ben Traver