25 September 2013

Sarah from Lebanon, NH  


"I'm 21 and I voted for the president. And I am absolutely sick of this bullshit!"

Those were the words of Sarah, an undergraduate student who is originally from the small western New Hampshire town of Lebanon.

"When I voted for President Obama, I'd like to think I was pretty sober. I didn't think he had all the answers, I didn't think his stances were correct on every single issue, I thought sometimes he looked like an idiot or said some dumb things. But I never once thought that he should substitute my beliefs--or the majority beliefs--for his own judgment."

Sarah grew up in a fiercely independent family. "My parents never looked at political agreement as central to their relationship. My mom was more idealistic and my dad was a bit more grounded. But they didn't let politics poison them; they viewed their disagreements as a way to keep abreast of the issues and keep their minds sharp. I hated it as a kid but now I look back and realize it was pretty cool."

Sarah majors in political science and cites her parents as a major factor in that decision; she hopes to follow on at law school where she will get decidedly more practice at debating issues.

But like many Americans--a silent, growing group of people who aren't interviewed on FOX or MSNBC--Sarah has grown tired of what she calls "the un-winnable expectations game."

"People [complain] all the time about bad people getting into politics--the liars, swindlers and all-around corrupt dudes. 'Vote the bums out,' right? Wrong. We heap these expectations on our political leaders--that they should be perfect, always hew to whatever voting bloc is the flavor of the moment. And when they don't--when they hold to principle or buck the majority for a strongly held belief--we absolutely kill them."

Sarah refers to the recent Affordable Care Act in the vernacular: "Obamacare is a case in point. Did you know that Harry Truman wanted to pass universal health care? That was 70 years ago. 70 years. I know we're used to government being slow and unresponsive, but 70 years? It's been time for universal health care for a long time.

But look at what happened to Obama. Was it a shitty law? Yes. But at least it's a start. People are so willing to give up on citizenship--we'll change the law if it needs changing (which it does) with experience. But Obama has been killed on the domestically because of 'Obamacare this' and 'Obamacare that.' He isn't doing a terrible job as President, he's just the butt of a concentrated political attack by a bunch of dudes who want his job."

I asked Sarah a basic, conceptual question: "What is the role of the President of the United States?" I'll leave you with her answer:

"The president is somebody who inspires us. The president is somebody who can be the cheerleader-in-chief most of the time. We should want to be better because of the president; that person should reflect what it means to be an American.

The president isn't perfect. They're human! They are us. They should have good judgment and not be a [mean person] but they should probably make mistakes from time to time so that we know there's no fishy business going on back there.

Since the campaign, Obama has been targeted as "not us"--whether that was by looking through the lens of Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, community organizers or people who thought they'd highlight that he got into Harvard because of affirmative action. But really, who is this guy?

He's a guy who believes in America. He's said that the answers to our problems aren't always going to be solved by government--that we are actually the ones who are going to solve the problems and implement the solutions. And you know what? When he talks about it, I want to go do it. And so do millions of others. So, in my book, even though I don't agree with him on every issue, he is doing a fantastic job. He is inspiring an entire generation of Americans, and that will have a long-term, positive effect if we don't drag those people down for supporting him first."

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