If you've talked to me in the past two months, chances are I've told you that I'm going to a Democratic Women's Leadership Conference in Chicago this weekend. It's a chance to see the Obamas (both of 'em) as well as many of the bright lights of the policy world who I revere: Madeleine Albright, Robert Rubin and Laura D'Andrea Tyson. Since I'm a policy wonk, these are my stars. When I'm at the hairdresser and I try to read People or Us magazine, I only know who about half the celebrities are so I quickly get bored. (Don't even get me started on trying to watch "Dancing with the Stars". That show makes me feel like I've been on a deserted island for the last 20 years.) But give me the line-up for a policy conference that includes experts like Madeleine Albright and Susan Rice, and I'm all atwitter.
Apart from seeing Barack Obama speak in person, I plan to relax and enjoy being among the like-minded. Thousands of Democrats and others who support Obama all in one room, talking about what policies this country needs and what we can expect from an Obama administration.
Lately I feel like our country is so polarized that it's hard to believe we share any goals in common anymore. For the third time in recent weeks this morning, I listened to a random voter in a Red state on the radio saying that Obama "scares the bejeezus out of 'em" and "I just don't trust him." Those are tough interviews to listen to. I understand disagreeing with the policies he is promoting but I can't even imagine why anyone would be scared of Senator Obama. Is it his race? Do they not know any mixed race or black people? Are they believing the crazy talk radio and Internet rumors that the senator is secretly a Muslim who plans to somehow convert us all and give aid al Qaida?
What reasons are there for being scared of a politician? It is understandable to be scared of one who is threatening to take away cherished rights. One example: Governor Palin, who wants to take away a woman's right to choose, with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. But which rights is Senator Obama threatening to take away exactly? He had to make a campaign appearance in rural Virginia recently where he reassured voters that he would not do anything to take away their guns.
All this makes me wonder what the fear-mongers are saying and doing to scare voters? Or what is it about an African-American man that so scares some people? I look at Senator Obama and all I hear is clear logic and common-sense proposals to solve our country's problems. At times it's such hard-core policy talk that I could see the average person being bored by it, but not scared. Other times, I watch him and see bright bursts of a huge, infectious grin accompanied by passionate speeches about how great this country is for giving him this opportunity.
Meanwhile, I've got to pack my bags and figure out what to wear. They've just added Oprah to the line-up at this conference. Now there's a star that even I've heard of.