I want to tell you a story.
It's about my mom.
This story starts last summer. And from then to now, I've witnessed the progression of a voter who has evolved from HRC supporter, to "either nominee would be good" to soft Obama supporter to telling me in an e-mail it would be "a tragedy" if Obama were not the next President. Today we were exchanging emails about his sure-to-be-in-the-history-books-one-day speech in Philly. We can't talk much, because she lives in Boston and I'm an ex-pat working as an English teacher in South Korea. Most of our correspondance is done through email (because God love her, she just can't figure out this new-fangled Skype business :). Anyway, I sent her an email telling her I was wiring a hundred more dollars to Obama and daring her to match me. She did and then some. I mean... and THEN SOME!!
She just wrote a check (her first of this campaign) for a thousand dollars. Wow. Now contrast this amazing gesture to her views on Obama and the Democratic primary last summer and it's night-and-day. She was never anti-Obama or anything. She always liked him. She just liked Hillary more.
Last summer... (all conversations hackily, but accurately, recalled by your faithful narrator)
ME: So, mom, what do you think of Obama? I really think he has the potential to turn this country around.
MOM: Well... I'm worried about his experience. To clean up Bush's mess, I'm afraid someone who's only been in the Senate for two years is just not up to the job. I would rather see Clinton get the nomination.
MOM: (Noticing I'm let down, she adds this caveat)... I mean, Obama's great and maybe he'll be President one day, but I don't think it should be this year.
Then Iowa happened.
And I made her watch his post-Iowa speech (courtesy of youtube ofcourse).
MOM: Wow... he's very... impressive. I would love to see him as Hillary's running mate. He'll definitely be President one day.
I'm thinking "oooh, she's softening up a bit. But not quite there..."
But over the next few weeks, as the race ramped up but wasn't quite dirty yet, she said she would be just as happy to see Obama elected as Hillary. I sent her along little tidbits like the "Yes, we can" video by Will.i.am and other viral videos that had caught my attention.
When Hillary cried for the second or third time before a primary, I went into a little tirade about how it was a calculating move on her part. My mom admonished me, told me not to be a "Hillary hater." Chastised, I sheepishly conceeded maybe I was going overboard and decided to cut Hillary some slack and see where the race post-Feb 5th would lead. We kept talking about it through email and the few phone calls we had.
Now, I'm a rabid Obama supporter, so I'm always sending her op-eds and unsolicited opinions whenever I drop her a line. Sometimes my emails have gone as followed:
Hope you're doing well.
Can you believe this latest shit by Hillary?"
Eventually over time, I saw her switch from a "anybody but the Republicans" voter, to a hard Obama supporter. She said she was disillusioned by Hillary's tactics and didn't think she would want the nomination at such an expense. When I was too hard on Hillary, she kept telling me she's a smart woman and if the race starts going in a bad direction she'll conceed, because she cares about the party over her own ambitions.
Well, last week she said "I'm sad to say you were right. She truly does seem to care more about herself than her party or even her legacy."
From then on, I knew I had done my part for Obama by convincing one of the shrewdest, down-to-earth voters out there... my mom. But I didn't realize just how MUCH I had convinced her.
She's contributed money to a lot of charities, but when it comes to politicians she hasn't contributed more than 50 bucks to a candidate since Robert Kennedy's run in '68. She wanted Gore and Kerry to win ofcourse. But she wasn't inspired by them. They didn't touch the core and reinvigorate a jaded voter who has endured Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes like Obama has.
So I sent her an email yesterday:
ME: "I'm sending Obama another hundred bucks. I dare ya to match me! No, I double-dare ya. You won't... hehe..."
MOM: Well, that's where you're wrong, because I just cut him a check for a thousand dollars! But, I won't ask you to match that, dear. Not until you get a better salary.
My jaw is still resting on the floor. My facial expression was like one of those eyes-bulging-out-of-the-head emoticons. This is what Obama is. This is the inspiration he's capable of.
And also... Moms rock. Let's hear it for moms. :-)