I might have exited the womb a progressive. My grandparents smuggled radios into Guatemala through their church. My Dad marched in Oakland civil right protests. My parents created a childhood where politics was a topic of dinner conversation. During high school this meant I was that annoying girl espousing the virtues of the Dems and in college it meant first phone banks for Gore and then a crushing defeat one rainy November night. I am the profile of a person to fall to her knees weeping at an Obama victory, and yet I feel like the coming months may lead me to finally mark "independent" on my registration. It will cause me do something I never have before: actually listen to see if the politicians are saying anything.
Friday I watched the 5 TVs at the YMCA all but one hold Obama's first press conference. He made the interesting point that there is only one president at a time and that his term doesn't start until January. I get that. But what I have a hard time getting is that the most specific thing we learned was about that damn puppy.
He said, "..we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypo-allergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypo-allergenic.."
That's what specifics look like. This, on the other hand, isn't what specifics look like:
"Immediately after I become president, I'm going to confront this economic crisis head-on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hardworking families, and restore growth and prosperity."
This is a classic example of saying nothing and is something I now see everywhere. His victory speech was riddled with them. Victory speeches aren't the place to lay out boring policy specifics but Obama said, "There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem....(few sentences later) So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other." I hear this and think emotionally it's powerful but it's not actually based on anything. What are we working on? What are resolving to pitch in and do? Have we not worked hard in the past?
I didn't research as much as I should have during this election, but I feel it's taught me to research from here on out. I think the internet is dangerous because we can read what everyone else is saying about what politicians said but it's also great because if we want to, we have the opportunity to go straight to the transcripts of actual speeches. I'm going to try to practice going to the source and seeing it for myself.
I voted for Obama. I didn't vote for him because I thought he's a harbinger of change. He's killed that word for me. I voted for him because he's the Dem and old habits die hard. But out of this I think has come a new habit. Politicians are going to have to earn my vote by more than placing the right letter next to their name. And I need to finally step up and be a citizen and actually watch the moves they make.
Obama's first press conference transcripthttp://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2008/11/presidentelect_obama_first_pre.html
Obama victory speechhttp://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/11/04/obama.transcript/index.html