Into the home stretch… FINALLY!

I’m just back from the middle of a fairly monumental throng of fellow Buckeyes, gathered to see Barack Obama on the Ohio Statehouse lawn. Candidate-wise, I’ve been a very fortunate Democrat. Way back when, in 1976, my mom pulled me out of school to see Jimmy Carter on a last minute swing through Ohio, the Friday before the election. We were there early enough that literally the only thing between he and me was the podium, and I was fortunate to get to shake his hand (actually, I was damn near thrust in his face — I was only 12 and still relatively easy to lift).

In 1980, out of a sense of curiosity, I went to see Ronald Reagan at the Akron-Canton airport. Since I happened to be on the bus with the president of the College Republicans, I got a ticket into the VIP section, and in I went, carrying my camera and proudly wearing my John Anderson button.

I saw both Reagan and Mondale in ’84, getting to shake the latter’s hand. That was my first Presidential election as a voter.

Never got to see Dukakis in ’88, but I did see Jesse Jackson at a packed hall. Arguably the party’s greatest orator since FDR. I don’t know that he would have made a good President. I don’t think he would have been a bad one, like Grant or Buchanan or Nixon. But oh, how that man could talk.

In 1992, I teamed up with the BGSU College Democrats to get into a Bush rally shortly before the election. Carefully secreted in my then-fiancée’s purse? Broccoli, to wave at the president who’d famously declared his distaste for the vegetable (I like mine steamed, with cheddar sauce, thanks). :D

Not long after that, Bill Clinton made a late stop in Toledo the Sunday night/Monday morning before the election. I got his autograph on a corner of a campaign sign, a proud possession still.

Dry spell for 12 years.

2004, I saw John Kerry (with Bruce Springsteen opening for him) the Thursday before OVFF — my ex (the above then-fiancée) had just arrived in town for the convention—as in just arrived that minute—and we darted the three blocks north to see.

This year is the first time I’ve seen a candidate during the primaries, because it was all pretty much over but the shouting by the time the campaigns got to Ohio before. This is the first time I can recall that we were really in the thick of things. I saw Obama at Ohio State on 2/29, just before the Ohio primary (and have the video and pictures to prove it!).

I talked to my mom as I was leaving the rally. She’s been volunteering for Obama up in the Toledo area (yeah, yeah, home of Joe the Back Taxes Owing Unlicensed Plumber), and she says she hasn’t been this energized about a campaign since her first election: JFK. Seeing as how she went Dubya the last two times, I’m delighted. :)

She’s very pro-life. And she said the hard decision was this: Obama supports abortion rights, McCain supports the war, and she finds neither acceptable. In the long run, she finds the war more devastating, because abortion can be largely done away with by education: if you teach responsibility, it becomes less necessary.

Let me just note here, tangentially, that no one is for abortion. The rhetoric from the Other Side makes it sound like we want abortions to be mandatory. All we want is for them to be available if a woman is in a position to need one. We also want responsible sex education and an easier adoption system so that even though available, there are other options, and good pre- and post-natal care and assistance for families in need for those who choose to raise their child themselves.

I do not believe that one can be against abortion and also be against spending for AFDC, Head Start, health care, etc. It’s an immediate contradiction in terms if life is important before birth and not after. While I disagree strongly with Alan Keyes on many things, he is to my knowledge the only conservative politician who understands this and supports programs that care for the child after he or she is born and I applaud him for that.

If you’ve ever been faced with that choice, I understand your pain. When I was married and my wife was pregnant, we talked about it, because it was a difficult pregnancy. We chose not to, to ride out the difficulty of the pregnancy itself and the fact that I did not yet have a permanent job—which made our little girl’s stillbirth all the harder to accept.

I guarantee you, whichever way you decide, it will be the hardest conversation you ever have, even if it’s just wrestling with yourself. It’s not a light decision. No one goes, “Whups, I’m pregnant, I better go have an abortion,” and goes skipping lightly to the clinic without a second thought. It tore me up, and I wasn’t even the one who was pregnant.

Anyway, enough tangent, other than to note that the first time the abortion rate in this country went down after Roe v Wade was during Bill Clinton’s presidency—financial security, job security and a strong economy also make abortions less necessary.

I suppose if I were to prognosticate, it would be a pretty stout limb I was going out on to say that Obama will be elected on Tuesday. A landslide would be nice, but a clean, theft-proof win will do as well. I think Ohio may well go blue this time around, and I think Virginia will hold. Not sure about Florida or North Carolina. I think it’s just amazing that North Carolina and Virginia are in play, and that even Indiana, North Dakota and Montana are wobbly!

To go out on a limb just a bit, then — let’s say NC and FL go Obama and the final EV count is 353-185. Dems get 59 seats in the Senate, counting Sanders and Lieberman, allthough I shouldn’t be suprised if they jettison Lieberman. They’ll only keep him if he makes 60, and even then I don’t think the caucus can really count on him. What they really need–and what they won’t get unless minority turnout is through the roof–is 59+Sanders. I ain’t holding my breath.

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