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July 25, 2008

Why Obama, by Greg Saunier (Deerhoof)

Why Obama is a series of guest essays by musicians and authors, where they share their support for Democratic United States presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama and offer arguments why we need him elected.

Greg Saunier is the drummer for the band Deerhoof. The band's latest album, Offend Maggie, will be released on October 7th.

In his own words, here is Greg Saunier's Why Obama essay :

For me the thing about Obama is I really like the way he talks. In the Demo debates it would be someone talking gibberish, then someone else countering in gibberish, then he'd start in and suddenly every word made sense.

I don't think it's an accident for either the gibberishy politicians or Obama. Average politicians, for as long as I can remember in my lifetime, want to sound smart but exclude me from the equation. They are the experts and it's OK if I don't really understand what they're talking about, I should just trust them.

For all the chatter about Obama's progressiveness on policy, vastly overstated in my opinion, what's really progressive about him as far as I'm concerned is that inclusiveness in the discussion. If for no other reason than that the words coming out of his mouth are understandable, he is a radical politician. That's the reason he's a potential danger to the status quo - not necessarily the policy status quo (this remains to be seen), but the structural status quo. Imagine a country where citizens, especially younger ones, feel included in the political process, where they are expected to understand the details. I get chills when I do, because I can't remember a single time that's ever happened in my life, not at the presidential level. New citizens might grow up feeling that having a point of view is something other than pointless exercise in frustration.

Of course I dread the disillusion that could set in if he is elected and the world doesn't become a perfect place overnight. You know what they say about high expectations. But that chunk of his platform that is about inclusion and participation is the part that's most resistant to disillusionment because it was never about a quick fix on any particular topic in the first place. The onus would be shared between President Obama and USA citizens.

Being in a band is a neat way to travel. It's fun. We don't get to see the Eiffel Towers of the world but we get a chance, in fact are forced, to meet people in societies quite different from ours. And something I have noticed is that intelligence and restraint are two qualities that are valued more highly in other countries than in ours. If one were feeling a little sassy one might even venture to say that they are undervalued here to the point of disaster. I really didn't really realize this until Deerhoof started touring internationally a lot. I had figured it was the same everywhere. Shrugging, I bought the "human nature" excuse. Turns out there are large groups of people out there whose outlook on life is subtly more future-oriented, more informed, more self-controlled, more willing to consider a problem's complexities, less ready to start a fight, less defeated.

And just to have someone with these qualities in a position of leadership would be such a stimulation. I love how he is so even-keel, he never gets too "up" around victories and too "down" in defeats. The simple fact that educatedness seems an admirable characteristic when exuded by him is such a relief.

I especially think of the kids. What would it be like to grow up in a country where your leader actually wants you to be level-headed and smart? I certainly wouldn't know.

Deerhoof links:

Deerhoof website
Deerhoof MySpace page
Deerhoof's Wikipedia entry

Barack Obama links:

Barack Obama presidential campaign website

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Why Obama essays
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews