Supporting Obama is the sane choice, not a ‘mania’

By Katie Dunne

I was not an Obama supporter from the beginning. I didn’t swoon over his speeches or brag to my friends when I shook his hand. I didn’t join the Facebook groups or sport an Obama pin on my backpack. I ignored the Obamaniacs on the Quad and was annoyed by the term “Obamaniacs.”

As campaign season got underway, I was proud to call myself a Clinton supporter. (I’ll pause here for eye rolling.) That position was about as popular on this campus as a drinking ticket. But I liked her ideas, her experience and what her accomplishments meant for all American women. I resented the media bias against her and the sexist wisecracks, and I respected her poise in dealing with them.

It didn’t take long to realize that the Clinton machine was rusty. It creaked along for a while, and I tried my hardest to hold on.

But a few months and a couple of fake sniper stories later, I started to question my dedication to the Clinton cause. I couldn’t admit it to my women’s lib gal pals, but my loyalty to Hill was fading fast.

I started to re-evaluate my bitterness toward Obama. What was my beef with him to begin with?

At the top of the list was inexperience, followed closely by lack of experience, and … well, that was all I had. He was young, but maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing.

Hillary lived in the White House for eight years, was a senator for just as long, and she could not put together a sensible campaign to save her life.

President George W. Bush ran the executive branch of a state for five years, a country for eight, and his national approval ratings are currently the lowest in modern history, hovering in the upper twenties. Karl Rove is one of the most experienced guys in the business, but has the most questionable track record.

Maybe a newbie is what Washington, D.C. needs.

After a few weeks of reading newspapers, discussing the topic with friends, and listening to incredibly biased political pundits, I realized that Barack’s “inexperience” might not translate to “inability.” He has proven his political prowess, rebounding from media scandals that would have left other candidates in the dust. We know that he can handle personal attacks with dignity, thanks to our buddy Jesse Jackson. He speaks eloquently about very sensitive topics like racism and poverty.

Now, the question becomes, can he deliver? He promises “change.” He promises it so often that McCain supporters become nauseous every time they hear it. But he has struck a chord with Democrats. We want change.

Barack Obama will not single-handedly transform the institution of the presidency; the executive branch will continue to operate as an inefficient bureaucracy. That’s not the change I’m looking for, and I don’t think it’s what Obama is promising.

In the long run, he won’t change American politics. Republicans will still favor small government and states’ rights, Democrats will still support social programs and a strong federal government, and both sides will do what it takes to win elections.

My hope is that Obama can change the American people.

He can make us a little less skeptical about government, and a little more optimistic about the future. He can return some power to the middle class, which has been pillaged by the Bush administration. He can start to repair our reputation abroad. He can offer fresh ideas and fresh faces instead of recycling bigwig party strategists. With rationality and fairness, I hope he can even soften the bitter divide between the right and the left in America. Those are the kinds of changes I want to see, and they are the kind Obama will work for.

America needs a leader. We are done with puppets. We are done with the good ol’ boys.

I do not want a president that I can grab a beer with.

I want a president who inspires, who exudes confidence and who I can trust with executive power. I want a president who scored higher than me on the SAT.

Last week, I ordered my Barack Obama pin. I still refuse to call myself an “Obamaniac,” but that pin will be displayed on my backpack until Election Day and hopefully for the next eight years.

Katie is a senior (yikes!) in Spanish and political science and The Daily Illini is glad to have her aboard.