Posted by: Mark | November 5, 2008

Why I Voted for Barack Obama

It’s official now that Barack Obama has won the presidency. In fact, it has been official for the last 24 hours, which have been surreal. Obama is the first presidential candidate that I’ve voted for who has also won. We all saw the pictures of last night’s celebrations, if not witness them firsthand.

So I want to take the time to write why I voted for Barack Obama, and why I am happy that he will be the next president. I am doing this mostly to provide something by which to remind myself in the coming months and years as Obama actually acts as president, and some of his shiny polish inevitably dulls, that that’s OK, and in fact, it’s normal. So, here is why I voted for Barack Obama.

obama1I am a World History teacher. I used to teach American history, but have abandoned that topic to instead educate students about the history of our world. I have chosen to do so because I felt like I wasn’t doing my job by focusing solely on America, and singling us out as some isolated force unshaped by or unshaping the rest of the world. I feel that such ideas are false, and America’s global connectedness can be traced all the way back to the inception of this country, and even before that to the indigenous people who lived here. If I had to say the one over-arching theme of my world history class, I’d have to quote a Ben Lee song, “We’re all in this together.”

The last 8 years under George Bush have been very frustrating for me, because I feel that amidst his many inadequacies, Bush and his administration viewed the world through the lens of American exceptionalism. This country is perfectable, our people are better than any others in any part of the world, and help us out our prepare to be hurt or completely ignored. That sort of stubborn ignorance of the global world in which we live has been maddening, and I think has caused rifts with other countries that will take years to mend.

I felt from my first several impressions of Barack Obama that his view of the United States and the role it plays in the world is much more in tune with my view of the world. His discussions of foreign policy mirror my understanding that the problems facing Americans are not unique to Americans. It’s not called American warming, but global warming. Although we were attacked on September 11th, countless other countries have to confront global terrorism on a daily basis. Nor is this financial crisis solely American. The 21st century pushes all human beings closer and closer to each other with each day, which is no hyperbole given the rate at which technology changes. I have supported President Elect Obama for the last year and a half for this exact reason. I am impressed with him on many levels, but this is his trump card. The president of the United States is the world’s most powerful person, and Barack Obama sees the 21st century world in a way that Bush was unable to, and John McCain equally seemed to struggle with. I think that with our long road ahead, and the many compromises he will have to make, President Obama will never abandon his world view that it takes all of us to solve these problems that effect all of us, and therefore we can’t bully anyone into submission or ignore their dissatisfactions.

obama3I have two anecdotes from last night that underscore this point to me. My wife is not an American citizen. She was born in Italy and moved here with her family when she was 7, and has a green card. It was only recently that she applied to be an American citizen, after years of me urging her to do so, mostly in an effort to vote in this election. Unfortunately for her, she passed her citizenship test on October 31st and will not be sworn in until December, thus making it impossible for her to vote. Last night we went to a restaurant to celebrate the results, and both hugged with enthusiasm when Obama won. On the walk back to the car, after hearing Obama’s amazing speech, she started crying in the parking lot. She cried because she was sad that she couldn’t vote for this man to be her president. My wife, who dragged her feet for years to be an American citizen, shed tears over not getting to vote as an American.

The second anecdote is also in the family and relates to my father-in-law. When we got home we went on Skype to chat with him, since he had called us after Obama’s speech and we had missed the call. He lives in Austria now, and holds typical European political views. He was born after Mussolini and regrets his country’s foray into fascism, and he holds liberal economic and social views like many moderate/liberal Europeans do, along with a rather noticeable penchant for criticizing Bush. I have only known him in the context of existing in Bush’s America. Throughout these 8 years I have taken jabs and also dished my own jabs at this country and the reckless way that we conducted ourselves in the world. But this was different now.

We got on Skype and all celebrated together, and then the tone got serious. My Italian father-in-law, echoing his daughter from only 30 minutes before, found himself getting choked up as he told us that he was proud to say that his daughter lives in America, and that his grandchildren, whenever they are born, will be American. He felt secure in the future life that my wife and I will have, and our future children, because he thinks Obama is going to help make this place a respected place in the world. If that isn’t evidence of a global president, I don’t know what is.

Barack Obama is not superman, although depictions of him like to set him up that way. He will make mistakes, he will disappoint us, he will not solve all of our problems. However, he will lead this country with humility in a way that will once again restore prestige. I will for the first time travel proudly as an American abroad with reverence to my president, unafraid to show my support for President Obama.

globalization

I voted for Barack Obama because he makes me feel proud to be an American in the 21st century world.

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Responses

  1. My humble musical letter to President Obama:

    Love,
    Hannah Friedman

  2. I’m impressed. You must be an awesome teacher. My best friend Annalisa in Venice and my old roommate Ahmed who is back in Yemen showed similarly touching, genuinely heartfelt and emotional reactions to the news. A pal in Oslo said ‘He was our candidate too! All of us in Europe!’. It thrills me, but at the same time, saddens me that so many Americans continue to bristle at any comments from outside. Such misguided self-consciousness, such mistrust and cockiness, cherishing their anti-worldliness in a selfish and naive way, quick to give an arrogant reproach to anything that smells like it could be too sophisticated. Oops, I’m busting myself as one who’s spent too much time in the rural parts of the west! I digress… thanks for a great post. BTW a few weeks ago your wife told me you were crazy about twitter, I found you there and look what’s happening now, ha!

  3. Hey Mr. Lukach! It’s Alex Lee, from St. Paul’s. Some time has passed since our days in 20th Century Warfare! I’ve since become a political science and German major at the University of Miami. I’ve gone from a high schooler whose political views stemmed from his parents’ Republican views to a conservative Ron Paul supporter disenchanted with the current Republican Party. I voted for Chuck Baldwin of the Constitutionalist Party, so either way the pendulum was to swing on Tuesday, I was going to lose!

    The global support of Obama is indeed unprecedented. I don’t have enough appendages to count the number of people in countries around the world who said that an Obama presidency would be “good for their country”. The fervent support for Obama worldwide certainly does indicate that he could be the first “global” president.

    All this certainly sounds nice, and there aren’t many people who wouldn’t want global cooperation. I have my apprehensions, though. I don’t support a “global” president; I want a president that will improve the situation for Americans. As a realist, I have no problem with cooperation, but I want a president who’s also going to defend our interests. We didn’t become the most powerful and successful country on earth by being passive and meek. I hope Obama can blend his already-impressive prospects of global cooperation with a healthy dose of appropriate ass-kicking, when necessary.

    That’s just one of many apprehensions I have about Obama, but I won’t get into all of them here. It’s good to see you’re apparently doing well, Mark! Write me an email or catch me on Facebook sometime.

  4. Mr. Lukach that was a very well written and respectable opinion. However, I must agree with Alex Lee on this point that the position is called “President of the United States of America.” A president of this country should worry about this country first and foremost and the well being of its citizens. Being seen well in the worlds eyes is great however, when it comes to my safety and the safety and well being of my freinds and family I want a president that will stand up for his country and keep us safe no matter what the cost.

    I have been a supporter and advocate of the war in Iraq from its onset and I still am to this day. I will be the first to admit that there was bad intelligence regarding WMD’s and the intial war plan was clearly flawed. However, it has since been corrected under General Petrius’s surge tactics and we winning the war in Iraq which is something the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge. My mother does physicals on soliders who served in Iraq after they return state side and every single one of them says that we are winning, that we should be there and that we should stay, however long it takes until the job is completed.

    I am also a supporter and advocate of George W. Bush and the reason he is seen negatively across the worlds eyes is because of his “War Like” nature. In his 8 years in office he hasn’t taken shit from any other nations. He stands up for his country and its freedom and liberties and he has protected us countless times from the foiled terroist plots against this nation. He has kept this country safe since 9/11 and will now make every other country in the world think twice about whether or not they will attack the U.S.A. again. The reason the world wants Barak Obama as president is because he is exactly like Bill Clinton and what his adminstration did for 8 years. They sat back and did nothing and let everyone else in this world push us around and do what they will. Do you think Dmitry Medvedev or Ahmadinejad will be intimidated by Barack Obama after never having run anything and have no foreign policy experience?

    In you’re above opinion you say that you voted for Barack Obama as a world uniter. Well that’s fine and dandy but lest us not forget when our economy crumbled during the campaign and congress was attempting to pass that bail out bill he didn’t return to congress for the most significant economic crisis in his lifetime but was quoted as saying “Call me if you need me.” To me that sounds like he was worried more about the coming election then he was right in the moment in trying to solve this economic crisis that by the way he was a major contributer to our crumbling economy. A little known fact is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused this economic mess and also since 1988 the top recipients of campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie have been 1. Chris Dodd, 2. John Kerry, 3. Barack Obama, and 4. Hilary Clinton.

    I have many other arguments that I can make for the case of why Barack Obama is NOT the candidate AMERICA needs however, It seems pointless to debate this seeing as the election is already over and he is the new president of our country. I can only hope that the office makes the man and that he does put the safety and well being of this country first.

  5. Hi Mr. Lukach!

    So…I had read this post a few days ago and I thought the story about your wife crying because she wasn’t able to vote for Obama was really interesting but I didn’t really fully understand it at the time.

    I was talking to Nancy later on about the election and how I had never felt like a part of something so big before and she said that while she knew what I was saying, she felt a bit sad. She felt that maybe she didn’t have the right to celebrate as much or the right to be a part of it because she isn’t an American citizen and she didn’t get to vote in the election.

    Upon further inquiry, I found that this sentiment was hardly uncommon among international students. While I still can’t fully understand it, your wife’s and Nancy’s stories made me further realize how privileged I am to have been/ to be a part of this election. 🙂


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