I’VE always been a logical guy when it comes to elections. I advocate looking at each candidate’s platforms and deciding who to vote for by what they promise to do once in office.
On Friday, as I write this, I decided to turn off my brain and go with my gut. No facts, just feelings. After all, that’s how most people vote. In today’s gerrymandered districts and split electorates, candidates’ stands aren’t really that different. Voters end up deciding by personality or whether they like the candidate’s spouse.
I sat mesmerized by Sen. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday night. I was alone, watching from my living room uninterrupted. His words moved me.
I remembered his speech delivered back in 2004 at the DNC. The part that gave me goosebumps then was the stuff about “not being a country of red states, of blue states, but of the United States.”
That kind of pragmatic politics makes me smile. I got all tingly again when Obama read that line Thursday, even though my head says bipartisanship is about as likely as me buying a retirement condo on Mars.
Likewise, I like the way McCain has said he would “follow bin Laden to the gates of hell.” Goosebump city. But my head says: We’re no closer to capturing bin Laden than we are to erasing the federal deficit.
Gut politics, however, is more than listening to speeches. It is looking at personalities. I like to call this the psychology of politics.
Obama is trying to be more human so the video montage focused on his upbringing, being raised by a single mother who was white, along with his white grandparents who would take him fishing.
I see him as a man who remembers his mother, who died of cancer. Her words gave him that sense of right and wrong, that feeling that he must respect others. I think McCain is a kick sometimes — funny, charming, but I’m not sure about the influences of his mother being well, fresh in his mind. And I don’t like his wife, Cindy. She was on YouTube saying the only way to get around Arizona is by private jet, so, she bought herself one.
Obama’s wife doesn’t do much for me, but she appears strong and intelligent. Oh yeah, she raised darling daughters — an emotional plus for me, a family guy.
Obama comes off arrogant. Heck, anyone that goes to Harvard has to be confident. As I watched the video of him going to the gritty parts of Chicago to help people go from welfare to work and to help those who lost their jobs, I was impressed.
I’ve done some volunteer work with the down and out at my former church in Pasadena, even attended conventions where other Christians doing charity work — some from Chicago — would talk about helping the poor, building affordable housing, getting people health insurance. I could never measure up to those giants, but I got to know some of them and admired them. They made me feel like I was going something, something good.
Listening to Obama makes me revisit those days. Those warm and fuzzy feelings came back.
“It’s politics. It is rehearsed, orchestrated …” my colleagues reminded me. But for just one day, I am going to see this as most Americans do — with their gut, not their brain.
Sorry, you can lament that all you want but it is a fact. I’ve fought that approach my whole life, even when I was first exposed to politics at age 10, when I helped staple Richard Nixon posters to telephone poles in Long Island.
I remember my best friend’s mom took us to the Turnpike to watch Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey ride into town in a motorcade. That’s still one of my most cherished childhood moments. That year, 1968, the race was so close I remember waking up and my mom greeted me with the news: “We still don’t have a president.” I didn’t understand.
But politics is not based on logic. It is based on feelings, on a fleeting moment, on how a candidate makes you feel.
This race — though historic in that it features the first African-American nominated by a major party — is no different.