With the end in sight, we're faced with an ever more outrageous barrage of nasty, negative, anti-Obama emails. Relief comes in the form of the other email campaign, the one conducted by (we're real Americans, too) supporters of Barack Obama.
The difference in cyber-war tactics is as stark as is the difference in the candidates.
Compared to the scurrilous, name-calling internet attacks from McCain/Palin fanciers on the far right, a cyber-trip with the Obama faction is a Walk on the Mild Side.
Are they passionate? Yes. Are they fired up? Yes. Do they mean to win this thing? Absolutely. Are they making a practice of calling McCain a fascist? Do they call him a "convenient" Christian who aligns himself with the likes of Hagee and Parsley in a cynical attempt to attract the same pseudo-religious fringe -- "Don't confuse us with the facts" fundamentalists -- which narrowly propelled George W. back into the Oval Office in 2004? No way.
The fundamental difference between the internet left and the internet right? The cyber-right is not campaigning hard for a John McCain in whom they have great faith to bring about real change. They're not arguing for public policy or for humane governance. They're just fighting against the other guy. They're led in that direction by an increasingly desperate and angry McCain/Palin camp.
The cyber-left is campaigning hard for something. They are for Barack Obama. They are for an end to a belligerent, no-diplomacy, big gun foreign policy. For accessible health care for all Americans. For better public schools. For a fair tax code which doesn't spell the demise of the middle class. For a minimum wage which means your "minimum" is enough food to eat and a roof over your head. For a solution to abortion that keeps the predominantly rich old white guys in Washington out of a everywoman's uterus and gets them, instead, into programs which actually address the social problems that lead to unnecessary abortions. Internet Obama supporters are no saints; they bicker amongst themselves like nobody's business. But Campaign 2008, to all of them, means something more than an outlet for the anger they've been swallowing for the past eight years. These folks are four-square for something. They want change. Positive change. Humane change. And they are deeply committed to the candidate who best represents hope for that change. They've been led in that direction, from day one, by a steady, unflappable Obama/Biden camp.
Their emails ring like testimonies at an interfaith revival meeting. They do not scream "Satan!" or holler "Sinner!" No hellfire and damnation, no demonizing the opposition, no fear and loathing. Their message is as positive as their vision for this nation with Barack Obama and Joe Biden at the helm:
From a white, middle-class Florida voter:
"...I've got a wife and two kids. Because the kids had no school today, I took a vacation day from work and took the kids downtown to vote early. Fifty-nine minutes later, two smiling children and I proudly sported 'I Voted' stickers.
"But I didn't vote for Obama.
"I voted for my ancestors, who believed in the promise of this country and came with nothing as immigrants. I voted for my parents, who taught in the public schools for decades. I voted for Steve, an acquaintance of mine from Kentucky (killed by an IED two years ago in Iraq). I voted for Shawn, another who's been to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once, and who'll be going back to Afghanistan again soon -- and whose family earned eleven bucks a month too much to qualify for food stamps when the war started. I voted for April, the only African American girl in my high school -- it was years before it occurred to me how different her experience of our school must have been. I voted for my college friends who are Christian, Jewish, Mormon, and yes -- Muslim. I voted for my grandfathers, who worked hard in factories and died too young. I voted for the plumber who worked on my house, because I want him to get a REAL tax break. I voted for four little angels from Birmingham. I voted for a bunch of dead white men who, although personally flawed, were willing to pledge their lives, fortunes and sacred honor, and used a time of great crisis to expand freedom rather than suspend it. I voted for all those people and more, and I voted for all of you, too.
"But mostly, I voted selfishly: I voted for two little kids, one who has ballet in an hour and one who has baseball practice at the same time. I voted for a world where they can be confident that their government will represent the best that is in this country and that will, in turn, demand the best of them
"I voted for a government that will be respected in the world. I voted for an economy that will reward work above guile. I voted for everything I believe in. Sure, I filled in the circle next to the name Obama, but it wasn't him I was voting for -- it was every single one of us and [for] those I love most of all."
From PJ Locascio, a sixteen year old junior at Heritage High School in Lynchburg, VA. He's not old enough to vote yet but, apparently, he's old enough to have received an "Obama is the antichrist" email. PJ chose to join the cyber-campaign and wrote, in response to that horrific email:
"This is one of the most absurd and racist things I have ever seen. You would rather believe that he, Sen. Obama, is the 'antichrist' than believe he's simply the better candidate. It's definitely not funny because a lot of voting-eligible Americans actually do think he's Muslim or the antichrist...This was all done by the Republican agenda that continues to try to make Americans...believe that he's...out to destroy America; or that he is a socialist [who] will ruin the fabric of democracy...Anyone who believes this or passes this along...is terribly misinformed...it's what's called running a 'Fear campaign'...This kind of campaign is very dangerous...Every single one of you is old enough to think for yourself...Next election, when we are finally old enough to vote, I really hope and encourage you to examine both of the candidates meticulously, without partisanship and really check the facts...be your own person."
Clearly, a Virginia teenager has a keener view of where the mature voter's responsibility lies than too many hot-tempered bloggers who set their fingers loose on the keyboard before their brains are fully engaged. Too bad PJ can't vote.
Whatever the outcome on November 4th, those of us who've been observing both sides in this long campaign and writing about it all have learned a great deal about "real" American values and the true worth of the American conscience. And much of what we've learned that's worth believing in, worth fighting for and worth keeping, we learned from everyday Americans who support Barack Obama.
Win or lose, that is no small lesson to have learned.