After seeing the PBS "Frontline" program last night on Lee Atwater, I understand better why so many people (including me) had been turned off by politics, thinking Atwater's protégé, Karl Rove, and the Swift Boaters had taken over. But Obama gave us hope. My wife and I and many of our senior-citizen friends were moved by the young senator to try to change the old system of mud-slinging politics.
During the New York primary last February, I volunteered to campaign for Obama. I was told via Obama's Web site to show up at a nearby Starbucks and meet with my team leader, Sean Henry. When I showed up at 8:30 a.m. on a cold morning, I met my team. I was at least 50 years older than Sean and three team members, but two other team members were senior citizens. "Cool," I thought. It was like mothers and fathers campaigning with their grown children - with the same sort of camaraderie you often see in close families.
I also felt the same sense of family when my wife and I campaigned in South Philadelphia before the Pennsylvania primary. We were on a door-to-door team with a young woman in her twenties, and we were driven around by a jolly Irishman who talked about his grandchildren. Again, a multi-generational commitment was heartening to see.
My senior-citizen soul brother and prep-school classmate, Nick Kotz, campaigned tirelessly for Obama in Northern Virginia before the election - he hasn't worked so hard in years.
But many of our senior friends weren't ready to give up power. They wanted to hold on to the past, like McCain did. They said they valued experience, which, when translated, meant "seniority."
Well, I'm proud of all of us old farts who campaigned for Obama because we were smart enough to recognize that it was time to turn the country over to our much smarter, better educated children. We realized we haven't done so well.