Democracy at Work

>     Several months ago I wrote a blog that included the observation “I don’t know if Barack Obama is the man but he certainly has the message.” It seems that Iowans think so too. Maybe even the majority of all voters come November 2008. But it’s early and easy to get lost in a groundswell of collective thought. So, let’s just step back for a moment and see what’s going on and what, exactly, is our part in the manner of things.
    Barack Obama is new, relatively speaking. He’s young, he’s inexperienced (untried and untested) in matters of State, having served but one term in the United States Senate. He is also of a minority background having been educated and raised (at least in his early years) both outside the United States and in a culture that now seems to be an adversary to the very ideas and ideals he seeks to command as President. Yet, his increasing popularity among American voters is undeniable. So, what’s up?
    Change is up.
    Obama is proof that Democracy, as an agent of change, works. Like his politics or not, you have to marvel at a young man, seemingly out of nowhere, who has stepped up and given seasoned political veterans like the Clinton’s a run for their money. It’s not that he doesn’t have huge financial backing of his own, or the support of important individuals, it’s the very fact that he has been able to amass that support in the face of the odds that is energizing.
    What’s also energizing is his message. His very presence speaks to diversity and his message is one of unity. Unity amidst diversity. That’s the “winning combo” if you will. And we as a nation, perhaps as a world, have begun to hunger for it. So much so that he’s the man of the hour.
    One caution.
    Democracy demands that we remain conscious and informed through our choices. It is not enough that Obama, or any candidate, looks good and has a one or two line resounding message. The stuff of leadership is daunting and few are suited for the job, although many aspire to it. It is for us to weigh the benefits of radical change (and his election would be just that) with the need for the intelligence, common sense, skill, passion, thoughtfulness and above all, patience, required to get the job done.
    After the disappointing and frustrating events of the 2000 election, we, the people, slowly began to wake up and realize that it was time to take back responsibility for our lives again. Time to be citizens of Democracy. The phenomenon of Barack Obama is part of that awakening. In the end, however, it is we who will have to make the final choice, and by so doing, live with the consequences.
    Two interesting asides.    
    First, when a close friend and adviser to Barack Obama suggested he wait until 2016 and give himself a chance to garner experience and build a political machine, his reply was “My time is now.” He has seemingly made his choice based upon some inner knowing and a sense of destiny.
    Secondly, when an Iowa caucus voter was asked by a reporter why he was voting for Obama, the man replied, “I’m not sure I want to take the chance, but I feel I must take the chance.”
    Both of those men made their choices from a core place within themselves and an instinct for the tides of change.
    Soon we will each be called upon to make our choice around this very issue. Weigh that choice with both your mind and your heart.
    That’s another winning combo.

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