In less than 72 hours, we’ll know the results of the Iowa caucus. Iowans will have made their choice, and they will set in motion a series of events that will result in the Democrats picking our nominee. I’ve been unabashed in my support of Barack Obama from day one: indeed, I wrote on this blog more than three years ago that I hoped we’d have an opportunity to vote for him for President soon. I never imagined it would be this soon, yet I’m increasingly convinced that if we pass up this moment, we’ll be doing ourselves and our country a grave disservice.
It’s hard to survey the state of our union today and surmise that it’s anything but at risk. Our country was founded on a Constitution that established limits on our government and inalienable rights for man. Yet t(ioday, our President is far more concerned with expanding the government’s powers while simultaneously limiting our rights. That’s an imbalance of power that goes beyond one office, or one party.
More important than blaming President Bush (who, it should be clear, deserves much of the blame for the current state of affairs) is determining how we got here. We are a divided country today. Red states and blue states, the coasts and the heartland, north and south, white and black… you name it, we’re polarized. This is not a new phenomenon – but it seems we’ve lost our ability to think of ourselves as one country. It’s not enough to be an American – I fear that too many people today would define themselves as a Christian, an Evangelical, a Democrat, or some other trait that talks about what divides us before (if ever) talking about what defines us as a nation.
Three years ago, Barack Obama gave a breathtaking speech at the Democratic convention. In his now famous refrain, he spoke movingly of us not having one Red America and one Blue America, but a United States of America.
I can’t help but think of the upcoming primaries and caucuses in those terms. In Hillary Clinton we have a woman who once complained of a “vast, right-wing conspiracy” on national television. In John Edwards we have a candidate who castigates corporations and their gains – as if capitalism itself is to blame for the excesses of a few.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ll take an imperfect candidate who believes in evolution and ending the war in Iraq (to name two popular topics) over any of the current crop of Republicans. But the only candidate I see on either side of the aisle who actually stands a chance of bridging the bitter partisan divide is Barack Obama. I don’t want a 50% + 1 vote President. I want a landslide. Rather than defining our party in terms of what we’re not (we’re not Republicans, we’re not Bush…), we have what I see as a rare opportunity to nominate a candidate who has a significant shot at attracting a substantial amount of support from across the political spectrum. In Barack Obama, independents and even Republicans see a man who could single-handedly redefine how we present the US abroad, how we define our principles, and how we judge ourselves. This is a chance we should not miss.
Iowa: vote wisely. I’m hopeful that tonight’s poll is a harbinger of things to come.