04 June 2008

the new gig

so i started a new job this week, and as a dear friend can attest, i've been tied up in knots stressing it.

i mean, my introduction to the people that make up my new professional community was overwhelming. i had too many eyes and ears on me, and too many people telling me they couldn't wait to get my help with this, that, and the other... i mean, until that weekend (yeah, an entire weekend at a resort, in meetings with people soon to be my colleagues), i don't think i realized just how much responsibility i had taken on by accepting the firm's offer. i saw it as a great opportunity, but just didn't realize all the rest.

it's a lot and i have absolutely no doubt that i will freak out time and again, but it's also exciting. i'm building a program that's never existed within this community. i'm meeting its people, learning its history, understanding its parts and its whole. i am becoming a part of the community. and when i learn enough and know enough, i will begin to build. i can already feel the challenge and i'm professionally energized for the first time in a long time. like barack said last night, "i face this challenge with profound humility and knowledge of my own limitations", but i feel really confident that this community and i are a great match and that i'm going to make a positive difference and build something special.

and it helps that i have a SWEET office with a killer view (that includes the wednesday farmer's market) and pretty flowers from someone wonderful ;)

it really is a beautiful thing

that america has come so far. that a black man is our presidential nominee (and the next president), just 53 years after rosa parks refused to give her seat to the white guy. that americans are learning to see the person past the color of his skin or the size of her chest. that our society is becoming enlightened. it really is a beautiful thing.

01 June 2008

the america i met

my campaign journey took me to and through 15 states, most, though not all, of which are west of the mississippi river. in each state, i met its people, heard its stories, drove its roads, read its signs, felt as if i were a part of it, if only for a few hours. i have, in essence, rediscovered my great country and the people who make it so great. americans are really wonderful people, strong and in possession of a great deal of pride and hope.

its roads, however, are not so beautiful. this country’s crumbling infrastructure is shocking and unacceptable, in both its own rite and the greater problem it represents. for the past several decades, our country has focused its attention, money, and manpower outside these lands between our sea and shining sea. the past few years in particular, we have seen the commitment to infrastructure turn east, very far east, where we’ve been sending our people, our money, and our power to build roads and schools in iraq. while here at home, our very own roads and bridges are collapsing in disrepair and overuse. hurricane katrina and the minneapolis bridge collapse are two shining examples of our failing infrastructure. driving the roads in indiana is a glaring third. our tax dollars need to be used to fix america’s roads and bridges, america’s economy, and on america’s people. and to put americans back to work.

a couple of the signs gave me second thoughts, and thirds sometimes. this one in particular, “abortion stops a beating heart” got to me. there’s no way to reason with a single-issue voter. i’ve tried. i have read blogs and articles, have listened to dozens of conversations and debates, and just cannot find a way. but this one, this one i don’t understand, at all. abortion may stop a beating heart, but it’s a heart that belongs to something that’s never existed. think about all hearts that have stopped beating in the sands of iraq. think about all the sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives who have given their lives for our great country, to further america’s great ideals (misguided and illogical ideals perpetuated by the propaganda of a bunch of rich white guys who wanted to go down in infamy forever). instead of putting your pen on the abortion issue, use your vote to bring our troops back to america and give them the tools they need to have a successful post-war life. don’t vote on an issue that no longer matters, an issue that has no impact on your pocketbook, your children’s education, the deteriorating bridge between your house and the supermarket, or finding new jobs for americans.

also, aren’t you the same people who vote in favor of the death penalty? doesn’t a lethal injection stop a beating heart? oh, i see, these are people who committed terrible crimes and deserve to die. so long as we accept your version of justice, i suppose. the thing is, the death penalty is barbaric and honestly, it’s dumb. further, so long as our system of justice is imperfect (and so long as decisions are made by human beings, based on evidence collected and argued by other human beings, imperfection is the rule of the day), and one innocent man dies for the crimes of another, the death penalty is an abomination. and if i can’t reach you on moral grounds or via my liberal idealism, think with your pocketbook. think about the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent each year on death row in-mates, on legal appeals, court time, special accommodations at the jailhouse, and that last meal. by keeping them in the general “really bad guy” part of the prison until the day they die of natural causes (or unnatural as the case may be), we’ve saved tax payers money we can now put toward education (in a july 2005, la times article, it was reported that, “maintaining the california death penalty system costs taxpayers more than $114 million a year beyond the cost of simply keeping the convicts locked up for life”. in case you missed that, $114 million dollars per year!).

look, i don’t have the answers to all that ails america. i’m just another full-of-shit blogger who hopes someone is reading and agreeing (or disagreeing).

the point of my ramblings today is that i love america and i think it’s high time we put our tax dollars where they are most in need of spending, right here in america. we need a better education for america’s future, higher environmental standards and a real movement toward energy independence, more jobs in these emerging industries, better roads, and repaired bridges and dams. by hiring americans to fix america, we all become greater for it, and more us will be able to move away from that dark and gloomy america we’ve hidden from in shame these past few years, into an america we can be proud of.

vote and then get involved. whether it’s taking a position on your kids’ school board, volunteering once a month to hold crack babies at your local hospital, or helping plant trees in the spring. just get involved, help make america better, vote to put your tax dollars at work here in america, and trust in your america and its people.

i don't remember her name,

but i'm going to call her mcdonald's girl. she walked in to campaign headquarters one afternoon and asked to help. she was wearing her mcdonald's uniform, very young - maybe 18, maybe not even old enough to vote, and i would venture to guess that she is a high-school drop out. she was very quiet and incredibly unsure of herself, and just could not find a voice to make a call. but she came in to help.

downtown evansville, just so we're clear, is kind of like no-man's land. it's out of everyone's way and pretty much in everyone's way. this is most unfortunate, because downtown evansville kind of kicks ass! it's pretty, it's quaint, it's quiet (till hammerhead kicks it up in the later hours), right on the river front. it's great. anyway, mcdonald's girl. she went out of her way to barack obama's headquarters to see what was going on and how she could help.

she had no idea what to expect (and quite frankly, unless you've worked on a political campaign or know someone who has, you really don't know what it's like inside. it's amazing the way it works... another diary). but there was something inside of her that snapped and a bit of empowerment buzzed about her, that empowerment barack obama leaves in his footsteps. she felt a need to try to get involved. and though we ended up not being able to give her anything to do (and i still feel terrible about this), i am more proud of mcdonald's girl than any other i've met along the way.

mcdonald's girl comes from a segment of society who stereotypically has not bothered getting involved. they are the people society has shat upon, degraded and demeaned in the elite's quest for more power and lots more stuff (present company included and trying to reform). but mcdonald's girl represents my belief that people do want to help make the world a better place, they just don't know they can. people just don't believe in themselves or the power of their voice backed by their action. lots of people are angry and blame others for their lot in life, but they have their reasons for believing as they do, and we - the enlightened - should be helping to light the way for them, as opposed to keeping the path so dim.

and so long as "they" start to believe in themselves. so long as "they", at least peripherally, see that a woman and a black man fought tooth and nail to be the next presidential nominee for the democratic party, "they" have hopefully felt a spark of empowerment. it's amazing to have seen it in mcdonald's girl. and what she represents. that this nomination fight has affected and empowered a new generation of progressive thinking people from all walks of life who are now involved in the american process. it is a beautiful thing knowing that more voices are being heard. and it makes me proud to be an american, a progressive and involved american.

kudos to you, mcdonald's girl. you're one of my heroes. even though you don't know it.