Sunday, February 03, 2008

How do you spell "courage"? M-A-R-I-A

Maria Shriver, first lady of California, has just taken a giant leap to the top of an ever-evolving list of people I admire. Days after her husband, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, endorsed Republican presidential candidate John McCain, I watched Maria take the stage at a political rally at UCLA and declare her support for Barack Obama. What a woman!

My stepfather and I used to argue politics all the time. It was fun for us, but it drove Mother nuts. I asked Mother point blank one time if she agreed with all of Daddy's political views. She said sometimes she did, sometimes she didn't, but in either case, she always told him she agreed with him. Then, she told me, when she went into the voting booth, she voted for the candidate she liked best.

The pressure on Maria Shriver to support the Republican Party or stay mum must have been substantial. Not from her husband, necessarily, but from her own knowledge that in speaking out she'd set herself up for censure from those who pull Republican Party strings. I'm sure that as I write this, there are men in suits gathering to discuss one specific agenda item: "How do you solve a problem like Maria?"

Nevertheless, there she was, her face bare of makeup, encouraging people not to be afraid to vote with their hearts, not to be afraid to take a stand. She was an unscheduled speaker. She had come, she said, after leaving with her daughter for an earlier, non-political event and realizing she needed to follow her heart to the rally at UCLA.

It's a moment I wouldn't have missed for the world. If you've noticed my absence from the blogosphere in the last few days, it's because I've been glued to the television set, flipping from one news channel to the other, listening for every word spoken by every candidate. Despite my best intentions, I've become a political junkie.

One of the things I've enjoyed most about blogging is the discovery of how much we are all alike, how much we have in common when it comes right down to our cares, our concerns, our hopes and dreams. In the blogosphere, it's our similarities, more than our differences, that draw us together. Distinctions such as gender, race, age, nationality, and sexual preference seem to blur when we read another blogger's words and recognize pieces of ourselves, our shared humanity.

Because I feel protective about those good feelings, I've never wanted to make this a political blog. In real life, I'll discuss politics with people I know well, people I trust, but certainly not with casual acquaintances. And I've never wanted my little corner of the Internet to be sullied by controversy. I still don't want that.

But today something changed for me. With the courage of her convictions, Maria Shriver stood up in front of the world and spoke her own mind. Having witnessed that moment, I can't, in good conscience, do less. So, with hope in my heart and a yearning for a leader who can inspire the best efforts of each of us, I'll stand up in the safety of this little blog and be counted as a vote for Barack Obama. If you haven't made up your minds yet, maybe you'll give him a second look.

Today, I'll put my trust in you, dear readers. I'll trust you to look into your own hearts, follow your own dreams and vote as you please. At the same time, I'll trust you not to leave comments telling me what's wrong with the candidate I like or what's wrong with me for making that choice. I'll trust you to understand that I don't even need your affirmation if you happen to agree with me. And if you choose to write about your political opinions on your own blog, I'll read whatever you have to say, give it thoughtful consideration, and still respect you in the morning.

In her speech today, Maria Shriver quoted a line from the Hopi Elders: "We are the ones we've been waiting for." Making a difference is up to us, isn't it? Follow your heart and vote for the candidate of your choice, and please don't let apathy or cynicism convince you your vote won't matter.


  1. Velvet, I would think there is far more pressure from her family to endorse a dem whereas Arnold as always encouraged her to follow her own heart. The Shrivers are a powerhouse here in California. It would have been far more courageous for her to endorse a republican...

    I for one am sick of them all. I really don't think any of them can do anything to bring about change. Instead of hanging on their every word, I'm watching way more cable movies... no politics at all there.

  2. I'm proud of Maria too, Velvet. Pap is a Republican, I'm a Democrat, so we've learned to keep our politics personal (to avoid fighting). I've been watching Obama for some time, and still trying to decide whether I think he has a better chance to make change than Hilary, who will come with her own brain and that of a man with eight years of experience in the office. Their color or gender was never an issue for me...I'm looking for logical, practical, fence mending change.

  3. Fabulous! I am a strong Obama supporter, and I also respect Hillary as an individual person and politician. My partner and I are open politicak junkies and I also saw Shriver yesterday. She moved me deeply -- so honored to be part of that fabulous group of women making up their own minds and hearts. As Michelle Obama says: "We have great work to do together. Don't be afraid."

  4. This morning my husband was telling me that older voters are going to vote for Hillary and younger ones for Obama. I said, "I'm not so sure about that" and pointed out several people I know who are no longer kids who've expressed a plan to vote for Obama. I think there might be a big sweep in the making.

    I missed Maria Shriver's appearance but saw the news reshowing it this morning. I guess she's a died-in-the-wool Democrat after all. I'd wondered.

  5. this has certainly become the most interesting and exciting presidential race i can recall.

    not that i can remember too many of them very clearly. i'm 28. i've got pretty clear recollections of '04 and '00, hazy ones of '96 and '92. before that, i remember that presidents were elected in '88 and '84 but not much beyond.

  6. i want a democrat, to use Obama if he is pokedot. i sure hope he can win if he gets the nonomation. i am glad to see your post. everybody i read sort of avoides the suject.
    as for marie, more power to her.

  7. The exciting thing about this primary election is that people are getting excited and using their voice. I'm a Hillary supporter, but I have always loved the Kennedy's. One of my most enjoyable moments was actually meeting Maria's Mom and working with her at a convention for children. Thanks for your post.

  8. CreekHiker, I've been where you are and felt the way you do -- many times -- so I understand where you're coming from. What's so exciting to me is that I DON'T feel that way anymore. Right now, I feel hopeful. I feel like we have a small chance to make things better, and I want to take that chance.

    Kat, I like Hillary, too, and I've liked Bill all along, even when I've questioned his judgment a time or two. I think Hillary and Barack either one will change the status quo, and I think Hillary has the advantage of a close-up look at what's involved in running the country. I like Hillary and I admire her, but she doesn't inspire me. If she were president, I can see myself sitting back watching, waiting to see how things turn out. Obama, on the other hand, makes me feel empowered, as if I and others likewise empowered can work along beside him from wherever we are, making whatever small changes and efforts we can to make to set things right again in this country and the world. What can I say? I know it's a dream, but I'm buying into it.

    Playing Field, welcome, and thanks for visiting my blog. I was so inspired by Maria Shriver's public stand that I forgot to mention Michelle Obama's speech. Wasn't she something? She knocked my socks off!

    Annie, when I see the young people flocking to Obama, it takes me right back to 1960. The first political argument I ever had with my stepfather was when I spoke out in praise of John Kennedy. I wasn't old enough to vote for him, but I stood my ground.

    Yajeev, you don't have a lot to compare it to, but this is one of the more exciting races I remember, too. Mark this one down, because there's a good chance you'll see history made, one way or the other.

    Patsy, I couldn't live where I do and not understand that racism is alive and well, so I understand your fear that some people won't vote for Obama because of the color of his skin -- and that some people will. I hope those people cancel each other's votes, and that the rest of us, the ones to whom race and/or gender isn't a key issue, will not sit home on voting day and let others make our decisions for us.

    Winnie, I recognize you from the sisters' blogs, but I don't remember seeing you here before. Welcome! In reading your comment and thinking about Eunice Shriver, it occurred to me that she has brought the "yes, we can" message to Special Olympians for many years.

    I'm sure it was an honor to meet her.

  9. My mom told me a long time ago that she and my father never discussed who they were voting for, so they didn't fight. But I talk about candidates with Mom now, we don't argue about it. I've gotten into the habit of keeping to myself who I'm going to vote for, because in my experience, whenever I tell someone who I'm voting for, they always try to change my mind or otherwise tell me how wrong I am. I'm not political, if there is something I really believe in, that's different.

  10. Janet, it was hard for me to go public about my vote, too, for the same reasons you mention. As long as we're talking about why we're voting FOR someone and not about why we're voting AGAINST another someone, I'm okay, but I get uncomfortable quickly when the discussion turns negative.

  11. Congratulations on getting involved and excited. Since we had an election here in Texas that I thought was 'fixed' I have been really interested in what the candidates are promising and trying to look at their past record. I can't forget Whitewater and the lies that were told and I'm trying to find out what Obama's background is. I guess I'm undecided still. We have primaries on March 4th.

  12. Noel, I'm sure there are people at work right now trying to dig up all the dirt they can on the candidates still in the race, and I'm sure those dirt-diggers are the main reason some highly qualified individuals never choose to run for office. I'm also sure that if there isn't any interesting dirt to be dug up, some will be made up -- like the Obama-is-a-radical-Muslim lie.
    Since I'm a long way from perfect myself, I can forgive a candidate's mistakes if he or she is honest about them, but I HATE to be lied to.

  13. Velvet, I finally heard Maria's whole speech today... On Rush Limbaugh of all places ( I like the legal commentator that comes on before Rush and Dr. Laura who comes on he's often just on in the car...but I find him a political windbag for the most part!).

    Anyway, Maria's speech was awesome and inspiring. It made me so proud that she's the 1st Lady of California. I wish she were running !!!

  14. Velvet, I will vote for Hillary, but I will not be real sad if Barack wins. I will be happy with either. Even McCain is better than the bushwacker.

  15. Holly, you would have been ever prouder if you'd seen the reaction of the California crowd when Maria Shriver walked onstage. They went wild! I liked when she quoted Eleanor Roosevelt and then said, "Eleanor, wherever you are, this is my one scary thing for today."

    Sister-Three, it speaks well of Hillary so many of you in Arkansas are supporting her. Do you know if Arkansas Republicans are giving that kind of loyalty to Huckabee?

  16. My wife and I do that all the time. We used to both be Republicans and then after the second Bush was elected, we switched parties. Her parents were disgusted with us.

    I do like Hillary better than Obama and think it would do the country a lot of good to have a mother in the Whine House.

  17. Oldmanlincoln, thanks for visiting my blog. I popped in briefly at your three sites earlier today and was amazed by your gorgeous photos. Can't wait to go back when I have more time to explore them.


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