Why I Went to See Obama Even Though I am Old(er)

by francine Hardaway on January 31, 2008

I went to see Barack Obama last night. Yeah, I know I’m a middle-aged
white woman, and I should either be for a Republican because I’m in
business or Hillary because I am independent thinker. But I spent three
hours in lines, bored while waiting, and then in rapture listening to a
politican talk last night. And that guy was Barack Obama. Young,
energetic, optimistic, idealistic. I sorely needed that. <a href=””>Some video I
took with my little Flip-TV device is here.

Like everyone who grew up in the Sixties, I know where I was when I
heard the news about Kennedy’s assassination. I was at the top of 30
Rockefeller Plaza, ironically now the home of NBC News, then the
headquarters of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Singer was a large
client of J. Walter Thompson, the ad agency I was working for in New
York, and I was delivering a package to them. (Remember, although I was
an Ivy League grad, I was a girl, so –yes–I was a messenger and a

I was a new voter (the voting age was 21 then), and I wasn’t able to
cast my first vote ever for John F. Kennedy in 1960. I was just at the
age when I could start to vote in the 1964 election. And then Kennedy
was assassinated, and I never registered to vote until Bruce Babbitt
became Governor of Arizona and thought of running for president. I am a
friend of his and of his wonderful wife, Hattie, and she shamed me into
becoming part of a system I had given up on during the horrible years
with all the assassinations and Watergate and VietNam.

Over the years I have voted, I have taught my children to vote, and my
foster children. But I still didn’t have much faith in the system,
especially in the past eight years, when it seemed to fall apart so
completely for the middle class. I rarely voted enthusiastically (except
in local politics, where I’ve really admired people like Janet
Napolitano.) Over the years I’ve gotten more post-partisan, realizing
that there’s something fundamentally wrong with this Republican/Democrat
thing in such a complex world, and even coming to believe that
government is rarely a solution for anything.

Several years ago, realizing I wasn’t and R or a D, I re-registered as
an I. So if you think I am on one side or another of this thing we call
politics, you are wrong. I’ve been accused of being a liberal, and
accused of being a libertarian. I’m not, I’m a human being.

Anyway, I went to see Obama to find out what all the fuss was about.
And I found out what it is about. It’s about hope. It’s about people who
brought their children and their parents in wheelchairs, because they
think someone finally understands that Americans care less about
someone’s stand on one trivial issue than they do about someone’s
attitude toward life. Obama is trying to be the change he wants to see
in the world. He’s not perfect at it, because all the cards are stacked
against him. It’s hard to personify union when we are so divided, hard
to personify oneness when our entire political system is based on

But I feel I must at least see for myself when someone is trying so
hard, and last night I did. He’s not Ghandi, but he’s not Cheney,
either. He’s not cynical, he’s young, and maybe, just maybe, he can get
government doing what it should: very little, but that on behalf of
children, the elderly, and national security. Maybe he won’t hand out
$600 stimulus packages that cost us more than they help. And maybe he
can find a way to fix health care and education so that our country has
a future.

I’m not asking anyone to suppport Obama, because I’m still ultimately
apolitical. I didn’t volunteer, and I’m not jumping on a bandwagon. But
I’m such a sucker for optimism and hope that I feel like we are in th
Sixties again and I am young and the country has a chance.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon January 31, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Mr. Obama is exciting a lot of people. He has intelligence and charisma. We will see if that is enough to overcome his lack of political experience.

I think intelligence and leadership ability and the ability to inspire people is enough to overcome inexperience.

francine hardaway January 31, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Political experience doesn’t seem to get us anywhere. Bush ran a state and got us into a war.

messels January 31, 2008 at 5:26 pm

wow, you and i must be thinking on the same wave length.

btw, i use to live in flag so i know what you mean by being “human” not a d or a r. :) i’m also often accused of being a libertarian. i like to say that i’ve transcended the political spectrum and am now safely removed from perspective-restricting nomenclatures such as democrat, libertarian, republican, etc.

anyway, there was an *amazing* talk that mr. obama did with the san francisco chronicle’s editorial board. (i now live in sf).

here’s a link to the vid including some summary points from me.

hope you find this helpful. :)

Jeanette February 3, 2008 at 9:22 am

Thank you for posting your thoughts on Obama. I have been so discouraged by the candidates that I totally turned off politics. As a former 70s activist and an 80s Republican, I just don’t know where I fit in or who to vote for. I saw Elizabeth Kucinich speak and loved her message. And Alex Christiani from Germany gave a hopeful talk about America’s leadership possibilities. I like to believe we have hope for our children. But, the changes will come from the private sector of baby boomer giving.

Joy to America,

francine hardaway February 3, 2008 at 10:59 am

They probably will. That’s why I became a foster parent. I don’t really believe in the social service part of government working very well. But I DO want someone who will restore our standing in the world so everyone doesn’t hate us.

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