I will never forget what he said: “look what our country just did.” We were in Santa Monica on Election Night in 2008, Barack Obama was the President-Elect, and a random guy on the sidewalk found the words to describe what all of us were feeling. He was getting out of a Volvo with a car seat and he looked just like JJ Abrams. (Hey, maybe it WAS JJ Abrams!)
People I knew had lost jobs and homes and savings. America felt foreign to those of us who believed in truth, facts, peace, privacy, economics, and the Geneva Convention. It was time to think better of ourselves and present ourselves differently to the world and being a country that elected its first black President felt like a momentous first step.
I didn’t vote for Barack Obama in the 2008 election because I was not yet a US citizen, but I took care of that unfinished business in 2009 and I was happy to help re-elect him in 2012. Becoming a citizen helped me understand and love America more than was possible in the previous 18 years when I was just a resident. Citizenship made me a part of something I had only previously observed and kept at a distance. The greatness of America became mine to celebrate and contribute to; the weaknesses of America became mine to either accept or work to change.
I was so naive on election night in 2008. The country felt like a certain kind of place, populated by a certain kind of people, and I was eager to call myself one of them. Sure, there were people who voted against Barack Obama, but even some of them would say “look what our country just did” and then we would all move forward together. Right? Right?!
Who knew what fear and ignorance were really motivating some of the people — Americans! — who felt Barack Obama wasn’t the right choice to lead our country? Who could have foreseen how many political opportunists would exploit that fear and ignorance to paralyze one branch of government and obstruct the progress so many of us had voted for? And who could have imagined that the fear and ignorance would metastasize so severely that now there are only three camps among the supporters of Donald Trump: (1) those who enthusiastically buy what he’s selling; (2) those who loathe him but think he will rubber-stamp their draconian agenda; (3) those who fear (1) and (2).
I didn’t see that coming, but I’m still optimistic and I’m smarter now. I still believe politics can be a battle of ideas and enthusiasm, but I’ve learned that it’s also a battle between the informed and those who would take advantage of the uninformed. If you’re part of the latter, I see you and I know what you’re doing and I know better. So do you.
Hillary Clinton is a smart, tough, earnest, committed public servant and she has been showing us that for decades. Read her books, watch her in the debates, do your homework on her history and on the issues and it will be obvious: Hillary Clinton is absolutely the best choice to lead America at this time. Of course she is human and flawed like you and me and Barack Obama and any other person on the planet. But I’ll take that too because if she is the chief executive I think she can be, she is humble enough to recognize her blind spots and then surround herself with smart tough people to illuminate them. That is what leadership looks like.
I fell in love with my future wife during the 2008 presidential campaign, and now we have a daughter who has only known one President and one style of presidential leadership. Who is next?
I am proud today to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton as President of the United States of America. #ImWithHer