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September 5, 2008

Why Obama, by Mac McCaughan

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.

Mac McCaughan is a co-founder of Merge Records and member of the bands Superchunk and Portastatic. Portastatic's latest album is a 2-cd compilation of b-sides and rarities, Some Small History, and will be released September 9th.

In his own words, here is Mac McCaughan's Why Obama essay:

Politics in my adulthood has been a fairly numbing experience. I was first aware of politics when during Watergate my favorite PBS shows in the morning were preempted day after frustrating day. My dad had us stay up to watch Nixon resign. My parents voting for Carter was the first election I clearly remember, and then my teen years were dominated by Reagan. Reagan was good for punk rock but not much else. Democrats in the 80's failed to threaten the falsely-sunny facade of the deregulating Reagan years and while a Clinton win was good (both times), he squandered a lot of his good will with both his sellout moves to the center politically, and of course his dalliances. Of course I voted for the lukewarm and incompetent campaigners Gore and Kerry, but there has never been a politician that I could vote for and also feel emotionally invested in their campaign and how it relates to the future of our country.

My wife and I watched Obama's keynote at the 2004 convention (and Michelle's great introduction of her "man", her "baby's daddy") with friends and if a first-term Senator's speech at a political convention can stir something in you, then he's doing something right...I knew nothing about him before that night but like a lot of people for me that speech stayed in my mind. Considering Kerry's showing, I remember wishing it was Obama's time THEN.

Following politics I've always gotten the sinking feeling that these people (Democrats and Republicans both) are just kicking a ball up and down the field, and nothing is ever actually getting accomplished that helps people or makes people's lives better or levels inequity in any way. Of course the problem with the last 8 years of the Bush-Cheney regime is that the ball isn't just getting kicked up and down the field, it's been buried in the middle of the field where no one can even get at it. There's no need to enumerate the lies, destruction and shadiness that a small group of rich and powerful people have brought upon the country and the world, it's all out there remarkably in plain sight but somehow that hasn't stopped it from happening.

Barack Obama seems more like a humanist, and a human being, than a politician. Don't get me wrong, I don't think anyone gets to where he is without having a huge ego. But he seems like a unique person in that he can take in the carnage and the injustice wrought by his own country and somehow balance the natural outrage with a rational eye towards mending -- in what will necessarily be a long process, but he is patient -- the huge tears in the fabric of both our society but also the world community, in which our standing as a nation is at an all time low.

Politicians don't typically inspire. They cajole, hector, spout cliches, convince and sometimes make you say "this guy's better than the other guy at least" but inspiration is usually not even on the table. This year it IS on the table and Obama brings it. And he blends the inspiration with the concrete, and makes me want him making decisions about the future of our country, because that will be the future of my family and my friends and the larger world that we live in and that our kids will grow up in. He doesn't just exhibit qualities that let you know he'll be able to play the game in DC better than his opponents, he exhibits the desire and the capability to CHANGE the game. Change and Hope aren't just words at the bottom of a poster, they're things that we desperately need if we all want to get out of bed in the morning to a country we can live in and be proud of, and Obama knows it, and that's exciting.

Mac McCaughan links:

Merge Records website
Portastatic website
Superchunk website

Barack Obama link:

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