I don’t remember much about September 11th. Fifteen days earlier, after my water broke at only 27 ½ weeks gestation, my daughter Isabel was born, weighing only 2 pounds.

It is September 12th I remember, when I drove nearly an hour to Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University. As I drove past the hospital toward the parking area, I noticed that it seemed like everyone, doctors, nurses, and patients, was outside of the hospital. I asked someone what was going on, and they told me that there had been a bomb threat. My two-pound daughter, her wrist small enough for her father’s wedding band to fit it like a giant gold bangle bracelet, was still inside the NICU, one of only two departments not having yet been evacuated. The only parking spot I could find was at the Stanford mall, and I ran, c-section scar not entirely healed and all, breathless and crying, and told the security guards posted at the hospital door that I had to go inside because my daughter was still in there. Somehow they let me in, and I waited, anxiously, with my daughter and the nurses, pretty much the only people left, until we were assured that all was clear (how do they really know that, anyway?). Days later, someone told me the incident was instigated by a prank call from a Stanford student.

In the days and months that followed, with all of the fear and trembling we as individuals and as a nation had to endure, George W. Bush made me feel safe, like I could rest well at night, because he had things under control.

Six years later, after my husband was laid off from his high tech job, and we went from a six-figure income to digging for change on the floor of our car to have enough money for gas, George W. Bush vetoed providing health insurance to my uninsured, formerly two-pound baby.

A lifelong Republican, I am looking for, as the Poison song goes, “Something to Believe In.” Yes, I know that politicians are human, and disappointment is inevitable, but there seems to be a core of integrity that some people possess, and others don’t. While some Republican issues are important to me, like abortion, I think it’s important to face the fact that it’s extremely unlikely, after 35 years, that Roe V. Wade will be overturned. Other issues, like loving the poor, have been virtually ignored by the party I have been told embraces my values. (How does a “compassionate conservative” deny health insurance to any child?) The agenda set by the moral majority these last many years doesn’t accurately reflect the Bible I read. In the end, the only way to change people’s behavior is to change their hearts. You can’t legislate that.

Partisan politics don’t appeal to me. I don’t think I am alone. Proverbs 13:12a says that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and I think there are a whole bunch of us out here tired of being heartsick. We want to hope again, believe that we can be more than we are, while also stopping along the way to lend a hand to the oppressed and the overlooked. We want to dream again, listen to a president whose words send chills down the backs of our legs, whose speeches make us cry and remember who we are. In the end, our country is not simply an intellectual exercise in democracy, but rather an enterprise in which we invest our hearts, souls and minds. It’s time to fall in love with America again, and we’re looking for someone to light the spark. Obama’s the one.

Michele Franks

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

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