November of 2007, my wife and I drive the roads of Grant County, Wisconsin. We are on a mission, a progressive mission, a mission for hope and change. Grant County, located in the southwest corner of the Dairy State, is mostly rural glaciated countryside. It is dotted with small farms, small hamlets and has two larger towns, Lancaster, the county seat , and Platteville, the home of the University of Wisconsin at Platteville.
Grant County is a “battleground” county in the 2012 election. Platteville, with it young student population, is likely to go for Obama, but the farm areas are problematic. Many rural inhabitants are fearful of gun control and vestiges of racism abound.
We knock on doors of rural farmhouses. We ring doorbells in scattered hamlets. We walk up porch steps in Platteville and Lancaster. We visit elders in retirement homes and students in off-campus apartments. Most people are friendly and warmly greet this older couple wearing Obama buttons, Obama Superman shirts and driving a Chevy with Illinois tags. Occasionally, people say they have firmly decided and will vote for McCain or Obama. In those cases, we thank them, encourage them to vote, and trudge back to the Chevy. Our targets are those who, three days before the election, remain undecided. They want to be convinced and we have some convincing arguments:
Bush had initiated painful, costly and seemingly unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Obama is young and energetic.
Obama promises change.
Obama’s concern will be Main Street, not Wall Street.
Universal healthcare might actually become a reality.
“Drill baby, drill” will not be the Obama way.
Obama is going to be a transformational President as the first President of color he cannot be just more of the same.
Obama will repeal the Bush tax cuts for the super wealthy.
Cheney, Rumsfeld and others will be held to task for misleading the American public.
America will end its use of torture, rendition, and imprisonment without trial.
Simply put, we will be a country we can again be proud of.
Looking back, it was surprisingly easy to walk past those ubiquitous barking farm dogs. It was exciting to be a salesperson for Obama; we had a great product to sell. Perhaps, Jehovah Witnesses have similar feelings. It was a thrill to be part of that dynamic campaign. Grant County, like the majority of U.S. counties, went for Barak Obama. And we, like so many others, shed tears of joy watching the victory celebration take place in Chicago’s Grant Park. We had been part of it; we helped make it happen.
Now, President Obama has officially started his 2012 Campaign. My wife and I ponder what part we will play in this new campaign. Oh, we will vote for Obama. But will we again drive Grant County’s back roads? Will we again don those Obama Superman shirts? We doubt it.
Obama has accomplished some good things for our country. To vote for any Presidential candidate endorsed by the current Republican Party would be incomprehensible. However, the energy and the excitement are gone. Obama promised to be different. Of course, we did not seriously believe as President, Obama could accomplish all of that he promised. The disloyal opposition would fight him at every step of the way. However, we did believe he would tell it like it was, play a tough poker hand and occasionally take the risk of failure. Regrettably, Obama has failed to meet our expectations. Now President Obama is again repeating many of his campaign promises of 2012. Will he really roll back those tax cuts? Will he pull our troops out of Iraq? Will he now be that President of and for Change?
In the next few months, we hope to see the new Obama, the one the old Obama promised to be? We yearn for a courageous, gutsy take charge President, someone who will stand up to the evils and ignorance threatening our country. If he fails to take on that persona, we cannot knock on those doors again; we would no longer have anything to sell.
What a joy it would be to wear those Obama Superman shirts again.