Why This Fifty-Five Year Old White Lifelong Republican Wants Obama To Win

Obama does what all truly great leaders do: he speaks to the soul in plain self-revealing words of hope. We have never needed inspiration more.
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This is a great day for those of us who have been fighting for Senator Obama! I'm a good example of why he'll win in November. I'm the least typical Obama supporter. And there are many more like me.

I cut my political teeth in the seventies through the early eighties as an organizer in the antiabortion religious right. I'm a fifty-five year old white man who has been a conservative most of my life. I've been a Republican activist who campaigned for McCain in 2000. I'm a big fan of the military. My son served in the Marines. If Obama can reach me he can reach anyone.

My support for Obama has cost me friends. For instance the Bush family gave one of my recent military-related books (Keeping Faith-A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps) a ringing endorsement. After Laura Bush read an excerpt out on Meet The Press sales skyrocketed. I probably won't get too many more of those sorts of endorsements. But the chips are down and the presidential choice this year is too important not to not fight for.

We can't afford McCain. He'd be a president with a desire to be vindicated and "win" at all costs in Iraq. Iraq never attacked us. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The terrorists were not in Iraq while Hussein was in charge. We opened the door for them. We aren't bringing democracy to Iraq. This was a war of dumb choice launched in a part of the world that can't ever be fixed by our military.

The next president will inherit the mess George W. Bush created with a big assist from Senator McCain. Above all we need a completely fresh start. And of only Senator Obama can provide that.

McCain has taken his lack of judgment about Iraq to the next level. McCain won't do do what is good for America, or even good for our military men and women. For instance, he is against the new GI Bill that would give fair educational benefits to our men and women. McCain doesn't want to give them anything that might entice them to do anything but go to war, again and again and again. McCain serves the warrior god of his warrior ancestors, not America's best interests.

As I see it our choice is between a heroic old man whose time has long past and who will perpetuate failed policy, and a brilliant, openhearted new founding father of the new post-racial, post-divided America the likes of which we have not seen.

How do my old pro-life views square with Obama's pro-choice beliefs? Very well. Today when I listen to Obama speak (and to his remarkable wife, Michelle) what I hear is a world view that nurtures life. Obama is trying to lead this country to a place where the intrinsic worth of each individual is celebrated. He is a leader who believes in hope, the future, trying to save our planet and providing a just and good life for everyone. This makes him someone who is actually pro-life as opposed to Bush who paid lip service to right wing religion but did the opposite of nurturing life at every turn, including senselessly killing our soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis.

The society that Obama is calling us to join him in striving for is a place wherein life would be valued not just talked about. As he said in his speech delivered on February 6 in New Orleans, "Too often, we lose our sense of common destiny; that understanding that we are all tied together; that when a woman has less than nothing in this country, that makes us all poorer." Obama was talking about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but his words also apply to our overall view of ourselves.

How do my pro-military views square with Obama? Very well.

Republicans may talk about patriotism but through their stubborn support for Bush's Iraq war they have become our military's worst enemies. And many of us in the military family have had it with the Republican's bellicose nonsense -- Bush's "Bring it on!" and now McCain's version; "I'll chase bin Laden to the gates of hell!" and "We'll win!" Enough is enough.

Obama comes to us from outside the system that has produced our present multiple crises of wars of choice and a failing economy. He does what all truly great leaders do: he speaks to the soul in plain self-revealing words of hope.

I think we all vote on an emotional level, whatever we say about our "reasons." And I know that I'm not the only tired culture warrior from the right who feels relieved and uplifted and -- most importantly -- believes Obama when I hear him talk about bringing us together to shape a better future. I also believe that he is an authentic man of faith. His sincere inclusion of Christian faith in his conversation with us rings true to this preacher's kid.

Obama touches me. He has a prophetic authenticity that reminds me of W.E.B. Du Bois' prayers that Du Bois sometimes wrote for his students. Obama also brings a touch of Billy Graham with him to the podium. His is a deeply spiritual call. And his critics that have dismissed Obama's ability to inspire as "mere words" are dead wrong.

We have never needed inspiration more. And we have never needed a president to inspire the rest of the world more. Every international opinion poll shows that Obama is not only the most popular American leader, perhaps ever, but more popular than any other world leader today.

Obama offers civility. Obama speaks in complete sentences, well-turned paragraphs, offers thoughts with intellectual depth, nuance, humility and compassion. Obama does not play on our fears. Electing Obama will also tell the world--and most importantly ourselves--that we can grow, learn and move on when it comes to race. We can heal our wounds. We can set an example again.

Obama is worth fighting for. He is worth losing old friends for. History has given us an unlikely lifeline. Do we have the decency and sense to open our hearts? What a great moment this is!

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back

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