Obama was destined to become our President. But it took an email from my father to convince me.

November 5, 2008


Well, it happened. An old, white man lost to a young, black man. Many people, especially those of a certain age, those who remember Jim Crow, would have never thought to see this day. Frankly, I never thought I’d see this day. Well, it happened.

Maybe the various fictional black presidents on TV were not so ahead of their time. The truth caught up with fiction. There are myriad reasons why. Probably one of the biggest was just how bad the previous regime had fared. The Republicans are undoubtedly paying for the many sins of George Bush. And rightly so. “W” was and is an out and out disaster. Even if McCain were nothing like the President, he was more so than Obama.

While Obama was roundly (and somewhat rightfully) criticized as being untested and inexperienced, the tested and experienced had, arguably, stunk up the White House worse than any governing body in US history. Bush likes to say history will judge him kindly. Nixon said the same thing. Didn’t happen.

Our economy has nosedived, with no recovery in sight. Our deficit is at an all-time high, worsening by the day. The war in Iraq is Viet Nam II. And so on. Couple these “facts” with Obama’s staggering campaign budget and you get a landslide. An unstoppable force for change.

Undecided less than a month ago, the above events are not what turned me to Obama. Rather the change took place in one morning, upon the receipt of an email from my father. He had just returned from a long and lovely vacation to Europe. He’d stayed at the best hotels, ate the finest foods and, in short, enjoyed the sort of high-end vacation a man of his means is entitled to. But it was not any of this that he spoke of in his email. Instead he wrote, “personal reservations aside, if we don’t elect Barack Obama as President ‘brand USA’ is in deep, deep trouble. We will be lost to the world.”

“We will be lost to the world.”

My father is roughly John McCain’s age. He makes serious money –well above the 250k that will most definitely be taxed higher under Obama. Equally important, my father made all of his money the old-fashioned way: he earned it. That he was so forthright in his advocacy of Obama was not to be taken lightly.

And I didn’t. The USA has always been a light in the world. And it was in danger of going out. Without even baring witness to the debates, the SNL caricatures, any of the campaigns in America, my father saw and heard all he needed to… in another country. And it was enough.

Given this is an advertising blog, I’ll end on an advertising note. The existing long-running campaign for America had failed. It needed to be scrapped. If Obama is all hope and charisma, so be it. We need both.


12 Responses to “Obama was destined to become our President. But it took an email from my father to convince me.”

  1. Jack Fund said

    I’ve always been a big fan of your dad. He gave me my first big break in advertising. And I never got a bad piece of advice from him.

  2. World B. Furr said

    A new day, indeed.

  3. Van Gould said

    My parents live in South Carolina and have always been die-hard Republicans. Yesterday they told me they were going to vote for Obama. I guess I’m wondering, how is that possible? Did the long-running campaign for America really fail to the degree that conservatives everywhere are now stepping to the left? Being a new kid to the advertising block means I haven’t slept in a while, and I need a reality check.

  4. Andy Webb said

    Very eloquent, even moving, Steffan.

    I like Obama, too, for his stance on the war in Iraq, his embrace of a real alternative energy plan, his rejection of trickle-down economics and more. I also am happy to be rid of the Bush people at last.

    But I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Obama because of the real possibility that an almost one-party federal government could mean an unchecked spending spree that America cannot afford. The Democrat crew in Congress now has one solution: big-time taxing to pay for it all. They have no qualms about reaching into that moving-target middle-class wallet.

    Obama seems to be a good man. I hope he can hold the socialist-leaning types in check by moving to the center. With that, I might be voting for him whole-heartedly in four years.

  5. Voice of Reason said

    Great piece to end the election with.
    Brand USA has a new campaign. The world loves us again!
    However, I do look forward to you (and everyone else) getting back on the subject of advertising.

  6. Mexi said

    The Russians don’t care about brand USA. They are building new nuclear missles on the polish border in direct response to our NATO commitments to that region. When the Europeans prove themselves to once again be spineless to whom will they turn? Will the next president also be viewed as a war monger when tough action is needed?

    Also, comparing Nixon to bush is unfair and inaccurate. Bush has committed no crime and had bipartisan support for the war.

    On a separate thought, would obama be as adored had he been or becomes pro life?

  7. SRP said

    Ah, Mexi,you have moxie!
    You make good points, if they are true. And I don’t think they are.
    Russian missiles sound like fifties propaganda.
    And you know what, I’m tired of us playing sheriff to the world. And so is the world. When other countries have conflicts -and they always will- what makes us so hellbent on solving them?
    Enough already…
    PS: Do you really think Bush hasn’t committed any crimes in 8 years?
    -Steffan “won’t get fooled again” Postaer

  8. Andy Webb said

    Yeah, we could use less Cheney-esque paranoia in the world sheriff department. In the big picture, becoming energy independent will help us tremendously in this regard.

  9. Pale Writer said

    “Bush has committed no crime .”

    Surely you must be kidding. George W. Bush killed more Americans than Bin Laden. He’s hands down the biggest terrorist of ALL time.

  10. I have decided, for my own sanity and that of those around me, that the following will be the last election-related words that I will write. At least until the next time.

    I’m inspired to respond because like your father, I recently spent some time in Europe. And it was very eye-opening. Over the past eight years the face has not escaped me that “brand USA” was becoming quickly tarnished outside our borders. The majority of my family lives in Europe and Canada. But it was not only my family that spoke of the then upcoming election when I was away. It was my waitors. And cab drivers. And tour bus drivers. And other visitors, from other countries, that surrounded me on daily excursions. And posters on lamp posts. And Irish and British news casts. And people in pubs. Basically, every single person who noted my American accent had something to offer about American politics, and the extent to which our brand had been ruined. Now, I didn’t need that nudge to know who I was voting for. I’ve been living for a while now with the irony of an Obama sticker on the back of my foreign-made 14 mpg SUV. No question whatsoever that I’m a liberal, albeit a capitalist one. But what I did feel with each conversation I had was something that saddened me greatly. Contrition. Shame. Responsibility. I found myself wanting to apologize to people for Bush, and America as a whole. And that didn’t feel good. I worked to earn the right to be called an American. I was born in Montreal and was only naturalized in 2004. I filled out paperwork, waited, took a test and stood before a judge to swear my allegiance to a country I had been living in for 30 years. I wasn’t born with the right to be “Proud to be an American,” I earned it. And during all those moments, in all those conversations, I felt just about everything but proud.

    Barack Obama was the first vote I have ever cast in a Presidential Election. And it was the most important election of my generation. My hand was shaking. There truly was a tear in my eye, and quivering smile on my face. And at that moment, in that voting booth, in that high-school gym I was, for the first time in my 4 year citizenship, proud to be an American.

    Damn proud.

  11. Jason Fox said

    I’ve now voted in five presidential elections. And my guy has lost three out of those five. Yet I’ve never once lost my pride in this country. Sure, I’ve been disappointed in its leaders (for both parties, thank you) at times and scratched my head at certain policies. Vocalized my support or oppositions to others a bit more vocally. But regardless of what Bush did or Clinton did or Obama might do, this is my home. And I’m thankful beyond measure that I was born here. That I didn’t have to either discover its goodness or flee some tyrannical regime to taste its sweet freedom.

    I’ll admit that I haven’t traveled extensively overseas. I spent two weeks in Italy that I’ll never forget and have done a bit of production in Toronto. But that’s it. Still, while I know many people abroad – especially in Western Europe – wonder what the heck we’re doing over here, I honestly don’t give it a lot of thought. I don’t want this country to be more European. More secular. More socialistic. And I suspect a decent number of Europeans don’t want their own countries that way, either. Or hate us nearly as much as Europe’s media (which makes our own seem to be the paragons of objectivity) insists they do. After all, both Germany and France voted in pro-American leaders in their last elections. But when it comes down to it, I want America to be America. I want to be free to speak, worship and vote as I choose. I want the government to do as little as possible, for both practical and philosophical reasons. I want us to help other countries both out of our own self interest and our benevolence. No other country in the history of the world has helped elevate the human condition than ours. And if you think I’m wrong, well, I’m sorry.

    I didn’t vote for Obama. Frankly, I think he’s just a repackaging of ideas that have proven unworkable in the past. Nonetheless, he will be my president. So I will support him in his efforts to lead this country’s government. I will pray for his safety. I will pray for his judgement. When I disagree with his positions, I will say so.

    And then I’ll go about my life.

    Because my hope and happiness aren’t tied to a man, a political party or what the government says they can do for me. It’s tied to my family and my faith. And I’m forever grateful this country makes it so much easier for me to enjoy these things.

    And now I’m being called away to do just that, so I’ll end with this:

    God bless America.


  12. mexi said

    I must admit that I was getting worked up after reading more “Bush is a criminal” type responses. But I’m done arguing. I appreciate and agre with Jason’s calm, reasoned response. I simply hope that I can retain my ability to express any criticism I may have of the new President when I disagree with him, as has always been customary in this country. And further hope that the talk of unifying the country does not mean silencing any form of dissent. Peace to all.

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