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September 11, 2008

Why Obama, by Shawn Fogel (Golden Bloom)

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.

Shawn Fogel is the frontman for Golden Bloom, whose debut album is scheduled for an early 2009 release.

In his own words, here is Shawn Fogel's Why Obama essay:

We, the American people, are less than two months away from choosing our next president and at this time I find myself in a troubled spot. While my inner idealist would like to be writing a “Why Kucinich” essay right now, my inner pragmatist knows better. Anyone pushing for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and the impeachment of the war criminals that currently occupy the White House is not going to be the Democratic Presidential Nominee. It seems that every time an election rolls around it’s “the most important election of our lives”, but that may just be the truth this time.

For me, there are two major reasons why I will vote for Barack Obama in November. The first reason is that aside from a third term of Bush/Cheney, electing John McCain would be the worst thing that could happen to our nation and our so-called democracy. The second reason is the difference between FEAR and HOPE. We’ve spent the last eight years under the rule of fear. The Bush administration has kept us complacent by keeping us afraid, and with good reason. How else could we allow our own government to systematically disassemble the Bill Of Rights and strip us of our civil liberties unless we are crippled by fear? Barack Obama has and continues to instill hope in the hearts of the disillusioned and disenfranchised. In such an imperfect world, where the changes that need to take place to restore our democracy and our good name in the world are HUGE, hope is what we need the most, because hope is the only thing that can set the wheels of change in motion.

There have been some bumps in the road where Obama and I have not seen eye to eye. There was the Protect America Act provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which allowed the Bush administration to spy on Americans without a warrant and granted retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies doing the wire-tapping. Although Obama voted for the revised FISA bill that would end the Bush administration’s illegal wire-tapping, the bill still granted immunity to the telecommunications companies. The very idea of telecom giants like AT&T and Verizon getting off with a warning for violating the Constitution has my inner idealist packing for Canada! Obama also supported the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 32 year-old hand gun ban in Washington D.C. This was not the view on gun control that as a progressive I would have liked to hear.

One of the biggest issues for me personally is that of media consolidation. We live in a time where Monopoly is just a board game, where “The Big Six” (G.E., Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, CBS, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.) own virtually all of the TV, radio, print media, and online outlets that we get our news from. What this means is that we see, hear and read the news that the largest corporations in the world want us to see, hear and read. This, in essence, stifles our democracy because it limits what we know. I believe that people are well intentioned by nature and that the average American forms their opinions and bases their decisions on lack of information. If people were better informed I truly believe that our country would be a very different place. Barack Obama hasn’t really made any public statement about his stance on media consolidation, and can you blame him? Howard Dean was a promising candidate until he made his views on media consolidation known. The result was his “Yee-haw Heard ‘Round The World” which every major media outlet was more than happy to cram down our throats every minute or two. While John McCain hasn’t verbally made his stance known, all you need to do is take a look at his staff. McCain’s presidential campaign manager, his deputy campaign manager, his Senate chief of staff, campaign finance director, his national finance co-chairman, a campaign co-chairman, an unpaid chief adviser, and over a dozen McCain fundraisers have ALL been lobbyists for telecommunications companies. I think they send a pretty clear message about where McCain’s priorities will be when it comes to media consolidation. If media consolidation isn’t something you know much about and you want to learn more, I recommend checking out, reading Noam Chomsky’s Media Control, and watching or listening to Democracy Now’s daily news broadcast.

If there is anyone out there reading this who is truly inspired and energized by John McCain please chime in, but there is no denying that Barack Obama has done something that no other presidential candidate has done during the span of my political awareness. He has been able to make a person feel like they have the rare opportunity to vote for someone who is intelligent and caring, who really cares about them and their needs, and truly wants them to be part of the dialogue. Whether or not I agree with him every step of the way, I know that only someone who inspires hope can be the catalyst for real change. We have a long way to go to change the imperfect world we live in, one that is run by what John Perkins (author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman) calls the “corporatocracy”, but we have to start somewhere. This may be the optimistic me silencing my idealistic side, but I believe that if we elect Barack Obama in November we have, at least, a fighting chance of making someone in the highest levels of government accountable to us, the hopeful, and hopefully informed Americans.

"The Fight at the End of the Tunnel" [mp3]

My band, Golden Bloom, has released a track called “The Fight at the End of the Tunnel” that will be on our upcoming album. The lyrics to the chorus of the song are “Remembering how hard we fall, standing tall we’re gonna get ready for the new day when there’s one for all, standing tall we’re gonna get ready for the new day.” Although I didn’t write this song about Barack Obama, in fact, I wrote the lyrics long before there were any presidential nominees, I feel like the message of the song is embodied by Obama’s supporters, who truly are ready for a new day and are working incredibly hard to make that day come soon. I really do believe there is a fight at the end of the tunnel, because once Obama is elected, that’s when the real work begins. That’s when we all need to make our voices heard louder than ever, because there will finally be someone listening.

Golden Bloom links:

Golden Bloom website
Golden Bloom MySpace page

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