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  • A man of character

    By Caleb Gardner on

    In 2009, in the midst of chaos and fear, the world changed in a profound and unexpected way. We didn’t know then what the future held, but we were full of hope as a major event changed the world forever: the birth of our son, Miles.

    Nothing could have adequately prepared us for the paradigm shift that came with bringing new life into this world—or the responsibility that accompanied it. Our every waking moment was suddenly dedicated to this new little person who seemed to need so much from us.

    More so than my wife, I was completely unprepared to have a son. I realized that I was going to have to be the example for this new little person; that he would be looking to me as his example of what a man should be. It was a scary thought.

    I began to ask myself what kind of person I wanted Miles to be, and looked for other people that I could point out to him as models. Examples of integrity and character in modern society were surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) scarce.

    That is when I became interested in then-candidate Barack Obama, who I believed could provide a strong example for my children from the highest office. His adamant assertion that encouragement of individual ability should go hand-in-hand with community support, that the tax code shouldn’t favor the super wealthy over the poor, that health care should be a right for all Americans—these were policy positions that were not necessarily popular, but I felt they reflected a deep moral character.

    A few months before Miles was born, I stood with my wife to witness then President-elect Obama give his acceptance speech in Grant Park. We celebrated together afterwards, spilling into the streets of Chicago with the joy of knowing we had just elected someone who held the same values as us, who would occupy the White House during the birth of our son.

    I watched over the next few years as Obama fought for policies he believed to be right, despite fierce opposition. He signed the Recovery Act because it was the right thing to do, knowing he would get no credit for preventing a bigger economic meltdown. He fought for the Affordable Care Act, making sure my son could never be turned down for a pre-existing condition—costing him a lot of political capital. And he pushed through Wall Street reform to stop unscrupulous banks from gaming the system for profit.

    Now I am hopeful again. Having just witnessed my second son’s birth under an Obama presidency, I am anxious to keep a man I have come to respect in the White House. Despite the expectations some had in 2008, I’ve never expected the President to be perfect. Becoming a father freed me from the expectation of perfection, for myself or anyone else. But I do believe that the President has proven himself to be a strong leader, who does what is right despite what is popular. And I strongly believe he has earned my voice and my vote.

    GET READY TO VOTE

    Caleb Gardner is an amateur father and husband who writes about modern manhood and all its trappings at The Exceptional Man. In his spare time (of which he has very little) he dabbles in photography, design, and music. He calls Chicago home, and in winter, less-nice things.

  • For our daughters

    By Erin Kotecki Vest on

    My seven-year old daughter scored her first basket in her Pee Wee basketball league the other day.

    That's right, my 2nd grader can take it to the hoop.

    Yes, like President Obama's daughters, my daughter too is using Title IX to the fullest extent and playing basketball. And like the President and First Lady, you can hear me encouraging her from the sidelines (ok, screaming my ever-loving head off...which I'm very sure the President and First Lady DO NOT do) when her first shot goes through the net.

    That voice you hear along with mine is her nine-year old big brother confirming what he just saw right by my side, just as excited as Mom.

    It was, as my daughter will tell you, "swish."

    For her, I need a "swish" come November 6th for Barack Obama.

    Why?

    That proud parent moment, that YouTube moment, that smile you see stretched across her face as she BEAMS with pride running back to get on defense while cheering, would not have been possible were it not for the advancement of women's equality.

    She rocks!!!!

    For her, for all those little girls, from my Hala to the President and First Lady's Malia to Sasha, to yours at home...we can not go back.

    It has become increasingly clear in this election that the basic rights of women are at stake. It keeps me awake at night. Every day in the news there seems to be a new attack from the Republicans against women, be it inflammatory remarks or invasive legislation.

    I don't worry for myself. Or my Mom. Or my Aunts. Or my friends. We can handle these men across the aisle who seem to think our paychecks should be smaller than our male counterparts and that our bodies should not be ours to control. We're grown women. We can and are fighting back.

    But then I watch my daughter do something as simple as score her very first basket, and I realize a generation of little girls can not fight back on their own just yet. They will grow up in a world, if the other side wins, that could appoint Supreme Court justices positioned to take away so many of the things we have gained.

    She may not be on a co-ed team, scoring another basket, allowed to play with the boys. There may not be a girl's team funded by her charter school due to budget cutbacks—we know the girls’ sports get cut before the boys’.

    She may not grow into her teen years allowed to make decisions about her own body. She may craft her college applications and her career choices on things she may not really want, but may pay her well, simply because she knows that following her dreams might mean not getting paid as much as a man in the same position or hitting that glass ceiling. She may be even more afraid than my own generation to report a sexual assault due to archaic and victimizing laws put into place by men who have never been violated as intimately or horrifically.

    Defense!

    It is imperative we re-elect President Barack Obama so we can continue to move forward the basic rights of women, of all Americans, from our daughters to our LGBTQ friends and family. Everyone.

    I want many, many more cheers because of her "swishes." I want this photo to happen for your daughters.

    For all the girls in the United States, and their big brothers proud to sit on the bleachers and applaud in awe, we must re-elect President Obama.

    The alternative is unacceptable, and quite frankly, terrifying.

    GET READY TO VOTE

  • Vote with your heart and an eye to the future

    By Melissa Ford on

    A week before the election, we were driving home from dinner, and my daughter was relaying stories from the playground, couching each character in the story as either a Democrat or a Republican. Politics had nothing to do with the stories.

    "Anita, she's a Republican, was poking this spider on the playground with a stick and then Justin, he's a Democrat, came up to her and said that spiders bite."

    And that's life in the Washington suburbs, where children are politically-minded even when it isn't an election season. It's sort of the business of our town: government. Our kids know where each candidate stands on various issues, from economics to women's health. And while they may not know it, I think all four of us are voting for Barack Obama for the same reason: because when we elect a president, we are looking at that person through the lens of an uncertain future. We want someone who is not only going to lead our family today, but lead the family we may be a year from now, two years from now, and so on.

    I am voting for Barack Obama because I don't know who my children will become or what their futures hold. My children may come out to me in the future and if so, I want them to have every opportunity afforded to heterosexual couples. My children may become ill in the future, and if so, I want them to have access to medical care without having treatment denied due to insurance caps or claims of pre-existing conditions. My children will probably want to attend college in the future, and when they do, I want it to be financially feasible.

    I vote this way not only for my children and their choose-your-own adventure future, but for all the very real Americans living out these imaginary realities in the here and now. Because those people are somebody else's child, and their parents simply want their children to be able to thrive in this country as well. Giving more people access to rights, health care, or social programs does not take away from others. It just expands the group of people who are able to actually live that American dream of peace, freedom, and prosperity.

    I'm glad my kids are educated on the issues and that they're voting (okay, so coming with me to the polls and checking off a box on their Weekly Reader) with their hearts. That is important to me as a parent. And I urge everyone before Election Day to not depend on what they've learned from attack ads or lawn signs, but to go online, get educated, and vote with your heart and an eye to the future.

    Melissa Ford is the author of the award-winning website, Stirrup Queens, as well as two books: Life from Scratch (BellBridge, 2010), a novel about a blogger finding her voice after a divorce, and Navigating the Land of If (Seal Press, 2009), a guide to infertility and pregnancy loss. Stirrup Queens was recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top ten motherhood blogs. Melissa is also an editor at BlogHer, and completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts. Ford lives in Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins. You can find her on Facebook.

  • Why my family supports President Obama

    By Whit Honea on

    I, like most people, have priorities and personal rankings with regard to the numerous concerns of my daily life, and I worry about each accordingly. At the top of the list is my family, my wife and two young boys, and then it all kind of dwindles from there until it works its way down to that moment in which I must decide which pair of socks I should wear for the day, if any.

    Also placing high on the list is the heated discussion of politics, which admittedly ebbs and flows in importance based upon the issues in focus and the impact of each upon my family; however, these days the coming election affects us all, and I have considered the platforms carefully.

    There are a number of topics currently bouncing around the media and across the water coolers of America, from fixing the economy to the importance of health care, and all are valid and each meanS the most to somebody. There are matters regarding women, seniors, the military and its veterans, the LGBT community, all sides of education, the creation of jobs and the subsequent retention they require, the findings of science, international relations, and the case of the environment—the list is long, and unlike the one I outlined above it does not give much ground in terms of importance. Everything deserves our attention.

    And yet I have based my decision to support President Obama, not on any single hot-button issue, but rather the way in which he approaches them all. President Obama makes his decisions with a combination of intelligence, experience, and compassion. He addresses situations with determination and fairness. He treats Americans, and all citizens of the world, with honesty and respect. These are qualities lacking elsewhere, and they provide the perfect source of inspiration when discussing such things as character and leadership with my boys.

    Generally, the President's approach produces the type of results that have proven best for my family. We are middle-class, concerned about education and social issues like same-sex marriage and a woman's right to choose. We want our parents to enjoy the benefits of a Medicare program that they have paid into, and for other Americans to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they are able to maintain healthcare regardless of the curveballs life throws at them. We want that for ourselves, and for the generations to follow.

    Parenting is its own reward, but it is also full of worry and challenges. President Obama and the policies that he endorses make it easier to put some of those worries to bed so that we too, can sleep better. There is comfort in knowing that the future of our children is growing stronger because, as an active father himself, Mr. Obama gets it.

    The challenges are also proving less difficult, though there is still much work to be done. When I speak to my boys about every person being equal, I can now point to the advancements in civil rights for women, people of color, and same-sex marriage as a beacon of doing the right thing—a hope for a better tomorrow.

    This is the result of character, education, and understanding, both from President Obama and those of us that agree a world more just is a world better for everyone, but especially my kids—after all, they are on the top of my list.

    Whit Honea is an award-winning writer and blogger living in Los Angeles with his wife and their two boys. He writes about parenting, travel, and current events all over the Internet. His personal website is Honea Express, which seems much more clever when you know that Honea sounds like pony—see? Now with tweets: @whithonea

  • Why vote early?

    By Laura, Obama for America - Colorado on

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    There are a lot of great reasons to vote early, but Denver, Colorado resident Angela may have one of the best:

    “I’m very grateful to be casting my vote by mail because my baby is due on November 7th and I can’t imagine standing in line at that point in my pregnancy—I may even be going into labor on November 6th and having an Election Day baby!”

    Find out if you can vote early in your state.

    A version of this post was originally published on the Colorado state blog.