Mark Shields, on the MacNeil-Lehr Report the night of the New Hampshire primary, talked about one voter he had spoken to who was trying to decide between Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee. He said that the voter “saw virtues and values in both of them.”

This is the thing the pundits are missing—the inexplicable reason for the soaring popularity of both of these candidates: Partisanship is dying off among us regular folks—we are focused on the person, not the politics. I like Bill Kristol; I have watched him on Fox for years and eagerly read his debut column in The New York Times today, and then found myself becoming angry when I read him dissing Obama because of his leftist politics. I felt like he was saying he didn’t like a friend of mine, a guy who I might not agree with about everthing, but who is a stand-up, honorable guy who doesn’t deserve a bad rap just because you don’t agree with him. NBC’s Brian Williams discussed the difficulty reporter Lee Cowan had being objective when covering Barack, and described seeing “middle-aged women just throw their arms around Barack Obama, kiss him hard on the cheek and say, ‘You know, I’m with you, good luck.’ And I think he feels it, too.”

I have a been a pro-life Republican most of my life, and I love Barack. His words mesmerize me. When I read stories about his rallies to my husband, I cry. We talk about his vision, his charisma, his inspiration, how seven years ago he was so broke his debit card got declined (did this ever happen to George Bush?) and his wife shopping at Target and saying that the only reason their student loans are paid off (ours aren’t) is because her husband had two best-selling books. He is one of us. He was raised by a single mom, didn’t see his dad much (me either), knows how to use technology (is a master of using it in his campaign), and is thoughtful and contemplative. I don’t get the impression that his answers are canned. He has become Everyman.

I think the thing that a lot of pundits are missing is that many of us just don’t care about, and are even angered by partisanship. We are free thinkers, and after all of the divisiveness of the 90s, we all just want to get along, to rally behind a hero, to cheer for the same team. We are weary of all of the finger-pointing and angry words—we want to feel the love, baby.

Newt Gingrich said awhile ago that if the country wants therapy, they’ll elect Barack Obama. Well, Newt, maybe we do. After all of this country’s collective dysfunction over the past few years, we want to heal, to feel good, to trust someone again, to believe that someone with a passionate poetic voice could lead us all on to be “happy warriors.”

Michele Franks

musingmom.wordpress.com