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September 26, 2008

Why Obama, by Ayelet Waldman

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 he needs to be elected president of the United States.

Author Ayelet Waldman was an Obama delegate at the Democratic National Convention. Her project, Books4Barack raised over $40,000 for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

The following essay was posted on the Books4Barack website, and is reprinted with permission of the author.

In her own words, here is Ayelet Waldman's Why Obama essay:

When the idea for books4barack first occurred to me, I hoped to raised two or three thousand dollars for Barack Obama's historic campaign. In my wildest dreams I never imagined that the figure would be close to $40,000. Thanks to all of you, this ridiculous project has been a resounding success. We've sold more baskets than we have books, a boggling feat, considering how many books are spilling out of boxes in my living room. We won't be taking anymore book bag donations, but we urge you to please consider donating anyway, even without the books. Writers, keep sending your books in. Please. We need lots more to fulfill the orders we already have.

The response had nothing to do with the idea, or with me, and everything to do with the historic candidacy of Barack Obama. All of us feel a profound sense of urgency. For the first time we can imagine voting not just against a person or a party (although, God knows, there's a lot to vote against), but for someone. For someone who demands of this country that we rise to his example. That we become our best selves.

Since our children were small, Michael and I have been telling them a story about America. We've been telling them that this complicated nation has a complicated history. That just as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, and the Wright brothers figure in its history, so do slavery, the Trail of Tears, and Korematsu v. United States. We've described our country's history as a heroic struggle for change inspired by leaders like Susan B. Anthony, Medgar Evers, and Chief Tecumseh. Because of their sacrifices, and the sacrifices of ordinary people, America left behind those ugly days, we tell our children, and today we live in a better place. We've told these stories with our fingers crossed behind our backs, because even as we celebrate progress, we think of Guantanamo Bay and Pelican Bay, and even as we celebrate change, we think of the fact that a woman still earns 77 cents to a man's dollar.

On January 21st, my family will be standing on the Mall where the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the speech that inspired generations, watching Barack Obama raise his hand and take the oath of office. At that moment, the America of our myths and stories will come true. At that moment, we will uncross our fingers, raise our hands to the sky and begin another story.

Ayelet Waldman links:

Ayelet Waldman's website
Books 4 Barack

Barack Obama links:

Barack Obama presidential campaign website
Books 4 Barack
Barack Rock!

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