Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's On Us

After reading Dave Lindorff's article Obama and Progressive Change, I'm forced to ask myself: What is it about Obama that I think is so different from politics as usual?

It's not the man himself or where his personal politics fall. Lindorff is right that we don't know a lot of details about Obama. What makes him unique and magnetic in his leadership is how he's decided to run his campaign. He's the only candidate who consistently focuses the responsibility for change directly upon the people of this country. Just listen to his speeches. He is really asking for us to become participants in change -- to return our country to a place of respectability and honor in the world.

He knows that one person cannot change a system that been so innately corrupted. But mobilize millions, and you just may make a difference. Yes, in many ways his campaign fits traditional standards. To gain the nomination, he must ask us for our money and our vote.

But the reason why I have embraced Obama is because he has asked me for more than my vote and my money. He has called me, and millions of other Americans, to live up to our own responsibility in changing this country from the ground up.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Making a Choice for an Education in Life

In the next few weeks, my wife and will determine the elementary schools we want as our top three choices for our son to enroll at for kindergarten next fall. It's one of those decisions that parents fret over all the time. Which school will foster our son's love for art and music? Will the teachers allow him to progress past the standard curriculum if he shows advanced aptitude? What's the neighborhood like around the school? Is it safe? And what happens if we don't get one of our top three choices -- then what?

The system in our school district is "controlled choice" -- a system where preferences are expressed, then children are entered into a lottery for the available spots at each school. Geographic proximity and enrollment of siblings can influence the lottery -- but there is still a lot of chance involved. Complicating matters is a court-monitored consent decree aimed at brining the achievement of the district's African-American students up to acceptable levels.

Some friends who also have children approaching elementary school age are struggling with the same choices. Some have opted to send their child to one of the private schools in town -- in part because of the perception of a better academic quality. I've often found myself on the receiving end of an accusatory conversation focused on the drawbacks of a public school education. After such conversations, I'll often second guess myself and wonder, "Are we selling the kid short by sending him to public school?"

But I always come back around to my firm belief that public schools give an education in life -- something invaluable and more important than academics alone. Successful people (in the broadest sense of "successful") are people that can relate to and respect others - all creeds, all colors, all social and economic backgrounds. And that is where the diversity of public school (especially in a system where your neighborhood doesn't determine your school) proves life's greatest teacher.

It is one of my great hopes that the choice we make in the next few weeks is one that helps our son become a person who respects others -- and is respected in return -- because we have surrounded him with children from every walk of life.


I just finished reading another article about the superdelegates in the Democratic Party. And, once again, I'm so infuriated that my party -- the one that's supposed to be about the people -- even has this pro-establishment, anti-democratic function built into its nominating process.

In response, I've send the following e-mail to the national Democratic Party: "I just want to state that if the votes of superdelegates result in the candidate with fewer 'elected' delegates gaining the Democratic nomination, I am voting for another party's candidate in the general election. Please don't take the democracy out of the democratic party. There is too much at stake this year."

If you want to voice your opinion on this issue, you can contact the Democratic Party via their website.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Please Define Joyous

In a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference this week, Bush called his presidency a "joyous experience." I used to think he was just slightly on the wrong side of reality, but this comment has made me realize how certifiably delusional he is. How could a president who presides over 9/11 and a protracted war in which more than 4,000 American and countless others have died call his tenure joyous? Isn't that a complete insult to all the families whose children and spouses have come home in caskets? Has his tenure been "joyous" for post-Katrina New Orleans residents that have been ignored by his administration?

I could understand (although disagree) if he proclaimed that his administration had done "the right things" over the past 7 years. But to call it joyous is beyond disrespectful to all the Americans who have lost their lives and livelihoods as a result of his administration.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

On the cusp

On the cusp of change
I yearn for the day
To awake assured
Our nation's house
Occupied not by power
But honesty and hope

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Superdelegate Democracy?

Just read this CNN article about the superdelegates in the Democratic party. If the Democratic candidate for the presidency swings because of the votes of these super delegates (in either Clinton or Obama's direction) to where the candidate is not the person chosen by more "ordinary voters," the Democratic Party will be shoving a stake in its proverbial heart. The droves of new voters that have come out this year with the hope that their vote actually means something is astounding. For a party with populist roots to potentially quash those hopes would be unforgivable.

I'll put it down here today. If the superdelegates sway in the nomination to the candidate with fewer popular votes, I'm done with the Democrats.
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