Friday, February 15, 2008

Why I Was At Music Hall Tonight

I turned 18 in 1992. In August, in fact--after the primaries. So the first time I ever cast a ballot, it was in the George H.W. Bush-Bill Clinton presidential race. I had been excited for months by Bill Clinton. I had been enraptured by the Democratic National Convention that year. Watching (on TV) Bill Clinton walk towards and enter Madison Square Garden once enough delegates had cast votes to secure the nomination, I felt chills. When he accepted the nomination, I was spell-bound and thrilled with his speech. Here's how it ended:
Somewhere at this very moment, another child is born in America. Let it be our cause to give that child a happy home, a healthy family, a hopeful future. Let it be our cause to see that child reach the fullest of her God-given abilities. Let it be our cause that she grow up strong and secure, braced by her challenges, but never, never struggling alone; with family and friends and a faith that in America, no one is left out; no one is left behind. Let it be our cause that when she is able, she gives something back to her children, her community, and her country. And let it be our cause to give her a country that's coming together, and moving ahead -- a country of boundless hopes and endless dreams; a country that once again lifts up its people, and inspires the world.
Let that be our cause and our commitment and our New Covenant.
I end tonight where it all began for me: I still believe in a place called Hope.

I remember being a first-year college student at the University of Chicago, and gathering in a dormitory lounge with fellow students to watch the general election results come in on the TV. We all jumped up and down, slapped high-fives, and hugged each other when the networks declared Clinton the winner.

I haven't been that excited about a candidate since then. Until Barack Obama.

I was at the Obama breakfast at the Westin about a year ago. It marked the first time I'd ever given money to a political candidate. Hearing him speak (even at that event, where he didn't give a fire-and-brimstone stump speech) leaves me with goosebumps. It's clear to me that he's the new torchbearer of Bill Clinton's 1992 message of hope.

The point of this post has not been to convince you to vote for Barack Obama. (If it were, I'm a miserable failure, as this isn't the kind of argument that persuades anyone to favor a candidate.) Instead, my message is this: no matter who you're supporting--Obama, Clinton, McCain, or Huckabee--I hope you're as excited by your candidate as I am by mine.

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