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November 04, 2008

An asking for the ages! And my own tiny victory over prejudice.

November 4. Day 127.

What a day! What a night! What an asker!

I generally try not to get political here, since negotiation is all about bring opposing sides together. Seller and buyer. Boss and employee. Right and left. Basically, I don't want to ramble about my personal views (unless the those views involve asking, raspberries or cruel library workers).

But... Let me just say this... A black man from Chicago asked people to vote for him. The grandson of a Hawaiian secretary-turned-exec asked for change. A junior senator with magnetic oratory skills asked America to listen.

And America did!!

From a purely intellectual standpoint, Obama's campaign and his quest for the White House have a lot of takeaway points for my own project: Persevere. Believe in what you ask for. Make givers (voters, in this case) confident there's something in it for them. Learn from those who are more experienced. Stay civil and focused on the target even when you think you're going after an impossible goal. Know that nothing is impossible.

I spent Election Night at a GoObama party, where I met a man who butted into my conversation with a friend in a most brazen fashion. Middle aged, white, buzz cut, in the military since high school.

I asked him why.

Because he graduated from school with an interest in accounting and electronics, and the military offered a career doing electrical work on ships. He joined, got money for college, and then went back to the army because he wanted to make a difference. A seasoned fighter. He deployed to Afghanistan on 9/11, he's been to Iraq 5 times, and he's proud to be in the military and fight for America abroad.

I asked him why.

Because he belives in what America is doing. He believes the military has the Middle East's priorities at heart. Democracy, not oil. He has to believe it, or else his career and so many lives would have been lost in vain. But he doesn't agree with the methods. He thinks they should help the Iraqis govern themselves and then phase out. Stop fighting. Reduce the majority of troops. And stay the hell out of Iran.

I asked him why.

Because Iran can fight back. Because he's seen too many of his friends die. He just buried two of his closest friends at Rosecrants. He's had enough. He knows we'd be in trouble if there was another war. Most of his coworkers agree with him on this. Most people would be surprised at how many people in the military are are voting for Obama.

I asked him why.

Because they've also had enough.

It was an intriguing conversation, because his perspectives and opinions are different from most in my social and family circle. I don't know anyone in the military, and talking to John opened my eyes in a new way to the thoughts of someone serving in the armed forces. I never suppored this war, but when I meet someone who faced gunfire and worse, with the earnest belief he's helping someone like me cross the street in safety-- be it someone in California or in Fallujah -- I have to respect him.

Gained: A new president. A more nuanced view of what it means to fight for what you believe in.
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