I also sometimes wonder how much I really need to watch the conventions on television. Although I do consider myself politically aware and engaged, and I understand the civic importance of the conventions, the simple fact is that my own vote is not going to change unless my candidate does something terribly egregious between now and election day. I'm not a swing voter, and even though in the past I've split my votes across various party lines, in this particular election I feel very strongly about how I need to vote.
(If you don't know by now my political leanings, it's probably not that hard to guess.)
Despite those thoughts above, I still wanted to watch the speeches. But for the most part, I missed them. I did get to see Bill Clinton and Joe Biden speak on Wednesday night, but our watching of those speeches was interrupted by various things. (I'm very glad for the TiVo pause button.) However, there was one speech that I did not want to miss, and that one, of course, was last night's speech from Barack Obama.
I'm a very big student of history, and I like to keep track of anniversary dates in my personal calendar. For quite a few years now, I've had a note in my calendar that August 28 was the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. So the fact that Obama's speech was happening on the 45th anniversary of King's speech was something I've kept in mind ever since they announced the dates of the convention.
Others have spoken about Obama's exact words, and what it means for the Democratic party. For me, the important aspect of Obama's acceptance of his nomination is the sheer historic value. We've come so far. Last night, as I watched his speech, it was a moment to bask in history. The fact that an African-American man is running as a major party candidate for president of these United States, and that for the most part his race is a non-issue...it's amazing. I'm told that it felt like a major step to Catholics when John F. Kennedy won in 1960, and I know how proud much of the Jewish community felt when Joe Lieberman won the majority vote in this country as the vice-presidential candidate eight years ago. (Let's ignore for the moment what Lieberman has done since then.) Barack Obama's candidacy is another huge step forward, something that should make all Americans proud.
Okay, now onto the space program.
Folks may recall that back in January, after my candidate had left the race (and let's not say more about him either), I found it very difficult to choose between Obama and Clinton. I decided to base my vote on their plans for the space program, and at the end of the month, I asked people for information on their respective space exploration platforms. Sadly, at the time there wasn't much either of them was saying on this issue.
But now that we're heading toward the general election, we have more comprehensive statements from both of the major party candidates. A friend of mine (hi, M.!) pointed me to Presidential Candidates Outline Space Policy at the Planetary Society website. Both candidates provided text on their space policy, and the Planetary Society is offering them sans comment. I encourage people to go read them, and as for myself, I will add only two notes displaying my personal bias. First of all, Barack Obama's statement includes a section titled "Embracing Human Space Exploration," in which he endorses the idea of a return to the moon by 2020, whereas McCain's seems less specific.
Secondly, Obama's statement on space policy is longer.
Go read them if you have time, and feel free to come back here and tell me what you think.
And if you haven't been watching it yet, check out The Middleman on the ABC Family Channel. They need all the viewers they can get.