Monday, August 25, 2008
Saving it for the voting booth
At a campground the other day, a man walks up to me, notices my Obama hat and says, "Nice hat." We chat amiably for a bit. Turns out the man is a lifelong Republican and Vietnam vet who has never voted Democrat before, but who has decided to vote for Obama this time around. He's even contributed money to his campaign.
When I ask him what turned him around, he says that it's lots of things, but that it started before Obama even started running. He came across his name included in a Bush publication listing veterans for Bush. No one had ever contacted him, asked him for permission to use his name, they had simply assumed that since he was a registered Republican and a vet that it was okay. That was the beginning of his estrangement, he tells me. "Their arrogance angered me," he says. "It was as if it was inconceivable that I might think for myself, have my own position on things or that I would even bother to be bothered by this kind of thing."
Its runs deeper than that though. He is extremely wary of what he sees as a trigger happy McCain temperament and what it might portend on the foreign policy front. He has developed close ties with Vietnam vets who were POWs, and he doesn't like the way McCain is trotting out the POW experience every time he is confronted with a criticism.
"Most guys I know don't like to talk about their experiences, don't get off on talking about them. In the beginning, McCain said he would be reluctant to speak of it in the campaign but it seems to me the reverse has been the case. It's his response to everything. It's his way of trying to shut people up. And he's been doing it for a long time, ever since he entered politics back in Arizona."
I listen to this guy speak his mind; he's soft spoken and articulate. He doesn't rant, but there is a seriousness about him, almost professorial. He and I trade a few comments about what we see in Obama.
The guy doesn't necessarily agree with Obama on some things but he's willing to set those matters aside because he sees something in an Obama presidency that he thinks we desperately need. Optimism.
Then he smiles and tells me that no one in his family knows yet how he's going to vote. "My brother would shit if he knew I'd given Obama money." He says.
"When are you gonna tell him?" I ask.
"I don't know yet. I'm not sure he wants to know."