I received this from a fellow mediator, Ron Kelly. I agree with him 100% and just wanted to pass these ideas along. For those of you Dems reading this in Washington State – please make this your year to go to the caucuses, it’s the only way your vote will count!
Obama – A Mediator’s Candidate?
I remember early on in the campaign, before I had formed a preference, I heard an experienced Washington reporter discussing the candidates. He found Obama puzzling. He claimed that if you were in a disagreement with Obama, he would summarize your arguments even better than you could yourself. This got my attention.
Then, in an early debate, Obama was asked if he would negotiate directly with the leaders of countries with whom we have strong differences. He said yes. He was attacked by many who said this just proved how naive he was. He didn’t back down. He pointed out that we negotiated with Stalin and we negotiated with Mao. He asserted that you do not need to give away anything to enter negotiations with people with whom you strongly disagree.
In speeches, he consistently advocated sitting down to negotiate with, and respectfully listening to, the heads of oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, and health care companies. He was roundly attacked as “wanting to bring Kumbaya to a knife fight”. He responded that he could afford to listen respectfully to the other side, especially if he was able to reach across the aisle to enlist even a few opposition Senators to his efforts.
I was skeptical. I read one of his books, “The Audacity of Hope”. I went back to read an article he wrote twenty years ago on why he was a community organizer. I concluded he had been consistent his entire adult life about reaching out to those with whom you disagree to build effective working coalitions.
I listened to his January 3 Iowa speech. He said he understood 9/11 not as a way to scare up votes, but as “a challenge to unite America and the world against our common threats of terrorism and nuclear weapons, climate change and poverty, genocide and disease.” His speech moved me deeply.
The next morning I woke up realizing that Obama inspired me like no other major presidential candidate has in decades. I have not heard any other politician currently on the national center stage asserting these core beliefs as consistently and effectively as Barack Obama.
Then, yesterday, I saw the letter that finally prompted me to send you this. It was signed by eighty lawyers working to preserve our rights to habeas corpus. It says: “When others stood back, Senator Obama helped lead the fight in the Senate against the Administration’s efforts in the Fall of 2006 to strip the courts of jurisdiction, and when we were walking the halls of the Capitol trying to win over enough Senators to beat back the Administration’s bill, Senator Obama made his key staffers and even his offices available to help us. Senator Obama worked with us to count the votes, and he personally lobbied colleagues who worried about the political ramifications of voting to preserve habeas corpus for the men held at Guantanamo.”
If you have decided to support Senator Clinton, please know I will be working enthusiastically for your candidate in November if she is the Democratic nominee. As a mediator, I have felt inspired and uplifted since deciding the morning after Iowa that I would put in some work for Obama every day until my state’s primary. If you want to help him, I urge you to go now to http://www.barackobama.com and to contribute as much of your time, money, letter writing, etc. as you can.