I admit that I was a little skeptical about a 30-minute infomercial starring a presidential candidate--even if it was MY presidential candidate. I worried at how some were starting to depict it, as an expression of arrogance or evidence of exorbitance.
The opening amber waves of grain were a little hokey, you must admit. Aside from that, not a single second was squandered.
How could the stories of these families not resonate with everyone?
Like the first family, who were struggling just to buy food, I grew up poor. When the mother explained how the kids had their own shelf for snacks and they knew once those snacks were gone, that was it for the week, I remembered my own childhood. Our food was rationed, right down to how many dippers of spaghetti sauce you could put on your pasta. You were allowed to add a slice of cheese to your sandwich once a week.
When they showed the woman with arthritis, I could empathize with her, too. Although I am only in my 30s, I have recently developed rheumatoid arthritis in my fingers. It is a gift from my great-grandmother whose hands were just as gnarled as the woman's in Obama's presentation. Fortunately, I have healthcare and, as long as I keep my healthcare--or if Obama becomes president and makes sure we all have access to healthcare--I will be able to take medications that prevent further damage to my hands, which are pretty essential to my job. But I can't help but think about that poor woman and others like her who are denied access to medications that could help them stay productive members of society. Under a McCain administration, she'd have $2500 to buy a steady supply of Tylenol arthritis to deal with the pain--and that's about it, because no insurance company will touch her for $2500.
When they showed the man whose hours had been cut and his wife who had been laid off, you could see the pain in his eyes--the damage this had done to his sense of self-worth as a provider for his family.
Then there was the woman with the special needs child trying to get through college to make a better life for her family. Although my boys' situation (with Asperger's/ADHD) is not nearly as unfortunate, I know how frustrating it is not to be able to afford services that you know could help your children.
When they reached the part where Barack Obama admitted he was not a perfect man and would not be a perfect president, but he promised he would always try, and juxtaposed this with images of him with white people, black people, young people, and old people, I teared up. I believe I finally understood the feeling my parents' generation had--how they all remember where they were the day John F. Kennedy was shot.
We know now that John F. Kennedy was not a perfect man or a perfect president, but he had an undefinable quality--the ability to make people believe he truly cared about them and that he wanted to make this a better country. Obama has that same quality.
He did not speak a single word about John McCain. He did not spend time trying to repair any damage McCain and his surrogates may have done to his reputation with their spurious slurs and allegations. It was all about us, not him.
In the face of the right's ugliness, he demonstrates nobility and strength. Obama has always said this election is not about him--it is about us.
McCain once said he ran for president not for any noble purpose but because it was a prize. Obama wants to do the best job possible, for us--McCain just wants to win a popularity contest and reassure himself that he is a success, because he grew up in his father's and grandfather's shadows and nothing he has done personally in life has allowed him to emerge from those shadows.
This video illustrated the two choices we have: the path of a re-United States or the road to further division, which McCain and Palin attempt to elicit with every sarcastic, snarky soundbite.
I know what choice I will make, and I know most of you are making the same choice. I just hope that I find the strength of character, like Barack Obama, to reach across the aisle when this is all over, to my fellow Americans who supported the ugliness that is John McCain's campaign. I hope that I can let go of the anger and bitterness I now feel toward the right and instead work for a healed, whole America, where we all agree that everyone deserves health care, nobody should be homeless, and everyone should have the opportunity to work and support his or her family and achieve anything under the sun.