Why we’ve already won.

I’m writing this on a lunch break from campaigning for Barack Obama in Henderson, NV. My friends Robi, Jenni, and I flew out from San Francisco (*early*) Saturday morning, and have been knocking on doors pretty much non-stop since.

It’s finally Election Day, and we’re each coping with the anxiety/excitement in our own ways.
When we got up at 5am, I was pretty freaked out about all the things that could go wrong today. Michelle Obama in North Las Vegas But, getting out there knocking on doors has been a great (and productive) distraction.  

Now as we sit here with MSNBC on 3 tvs at the bar, it’s impossible to avoid the significance of the historical moment soon at hand. Obviously, I have a tremendously vested interest in the outcome of the presidential election. And, I strongly urge everyone to act still today – if you haven’t voted, do it; if you’ve voted, phone bank or just call or text your friends and remind them to vote.

However, I feel we’ve already won a great victory for democracy in this country just by getting to this point:

  • First of all, Obama’s candidacy and his campaign’s focus on the youth vote has succeeded in engaging a generation of voters who have spent their entire lives aliented by the political process. This is a momentous shift that’s impact will resonate for many election cycles to come. 
  • Secondly, the nature of Obama’s (largely) issue-oriented and positive campaign (and for that matter, the early part of McCain’s campaign as well) has pulled us back from the antagonistic campaigning armageddon brought about by the disciples of Karl Rove. Though we still have a long way to go in raising campaign discourse back to the level such an important process deserves, I see this election as the first step in the electorate repudiating the political conventional wisdom that negative campaigning is an effective tactic. 
  • And finally, I am relieved that a candidate like Obama, who talks *up* to his audience (as does his wife), has overcome both the anti-intellectual attacks of the W. era and defied the sound bite-centric campaigning that has been on the rise since Reagan (and greatly accelerated by Bill Clinton). Not dumbing down the message and talking to voters like adults is the first step to restoring constructive political discourse in this country. <update>Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times echoes this sentiment in a much deeper analysis of anti-intellectualism in America.</update>

I’m extremely happy all of this has already been achieved. And to be honest, I’m not sure I would have believed that even these things were possible just a few years ago. But I’m greedy, and as great as these achievements are, they’re not nearly enough!

Now, let’s get out there and use the rest of this day to do what we can to elect Barack Obama and defeat CA Prop 8!!!

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