Resident ready to hop on the Obama train | NevadaAppeal.com

Resident ready to hop on the Obama train

Abby Johnson
For the Appeal

It’s Polar Express time, not just because we finally have snow in the mountains. The movie based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg takes a wide-eyed, skeptical 10-year-old on the Christmas Eve train ride of his dreams – from his bedroom to the North Pole to meet Santa.

To reboard the train at the North Pole for the ride home, the omniscient conductor punches into the boy’s ticket the word BELIEVE. “To have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.”

That’s where I am in the process of deciding whom to support for president. It’s heart versus head, with complications. I want a candidate to believe in. And to win. Are they mutually exclusive?

Is the candidate electable? Will he overcome the natural disadvantage of Democrats (Will Rogers: “I don’t belong to any organized party; I’m a Democrat”) to appeal to Republicans who thought that four more years of Bush was a good idea? I cringe at the electability question even as I consider it. It is self defeating to limit the possibilities before the voting has even begun. A long shot may be the best hope at retaking the White House.

I am so ready for regime change, for a president who can speak, who can lead, and who isn’t in the pocket of Big Oil and Big Biz, waging Big War. Imagine a president who takes responsibility for the post Katrina mess; who personally tends to the Veterans Administration so that returning soldiers have the services they need. Consider a president who uses the art of statesmanship to develop alliances with Congress to tackle the Big Problems together: universal health care, Iraq, climate change, decaying infrastructure, and the budget deficit, a few of the myriad challenges ahead.

This time Nevada is at the starting line of the primary and caucus season. Usually Democratic caucusing occurs later on, after there’s more certainty about the frontrunners and sideliners. The early Nevada caucus gives us the opportunity to pluck back the bowstring and propel a candidate into the limelight rather than rubber stamp what other states have decided. The Democrats have a talented field this year. Any of them could provide more leadership and grace than the current President.

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Many of my Democrat friends are heading for Hillary. It’s our only chance to see a woman president in our lifetime, they say. She can take over the operations of government with no learning curve. She promises to oppose Yucca Mountain (don’t they all?) and get us out of the Iraq war As Soon As Possible, whatever “possible” means. Even if she doesn’t inspire, despite high negatives, they say she can win. That’s the most important thing.

I’m not ready to settle yet. Maybe I’m still too idealistic, having awakened politically to support maverick John Anderson – Republican turned Independent – in the 1980 Reagan v. Carter presidential campaign.

Today I am intrigued by Barack Obama. The memoir of his early years is an intimate look at his coming-of-age identity crisis. I admire his dedication to community organizing, and his passion for trying to change the world every day.

I’m ready to be inspired, to look at the world in new ways. I’m ready for a younger leader to step forward, who can inspire younger generations. He’s articulate, intelligent, and thoughtful, grounded by his family and his ideals. He recognizes the realities of today but envisions where we need to be, and knows how to get us there.

‘Tis the season to believe. I believe I’ll support Senator Obama at the Democratic caucus on Jan. 19.

Fresh Ideas: Starting conversations by sharing personal perspectives on timely and timeless issues.

Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nevada. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.