INI sama sekali ini bukan kesalahan Barack Hussein Obama. Ini sepenuhnya kesalahan saya.
Ini kesalahan yang terpaksa terjadi karena begitu sampai Jakarta bulan Mei lalu, perhatian dan konsentrasi saja bergeser ke berbagai persoalan yang, sorry Obama, lebih membumi daripada sekadar “melaporkan” perjalanan ente ke Gedung Putih.
Di pekan pertama saya ikut menggalang aksi menentang kenaikan harga BBM. Tanggal 20 Mei, saya berada di tengah Front Rakyat Miskin (FRM), koalisi taktis beberapa organisasi yang menyuarakan penolakan kenaikan harga BBM yang dinilai melukai akal sehat.
Karena pemerintah sejak era Soeharto lebih senang mengijonkan sumur dan ladang minyak (juga sumber-sumber kekayaan alam lain yang begitu melimpah) kepada pihak asing, Indonesia jadi tak punya kedaulatan sama sekali di bidang ekonomi, khusunya migas.
Menyusul kenaikan harga BBM yang menembus angka 150 US dolar beberapa waktu lalu, subsidi atas BBM (kalau pun sungguh ada), kata pemerintah, mesti dikurangi. Menurut ekonom pemerintah, langkah ini untuk menyelamatkan APBN. Anehnya, sementara itu subsidi yang digelontorkan untuk menambal skandal BLBI tahun 1998-1999 lalu tetap dipertahankan. Adapun jumlahnya jauh lebih besar dari subsidi atas BBM. Bagaimana mungkin menghapuskan subsidi bagi rakyat banyak yang kebanyakan miskin, sementara mempertahankan subsidi bagi segelintir taipan yang dibesarkan rezim Soeharto dan sampai kini masih berkuasa di belakang layar Istana.
Dua pekan terakhir sebelum ke Hawaii, saya sibuk mendampingi Profesor Nevy Soguk dari Political Science Department of the University of Hawaii yang sedang melakukan riset mengenai perbandingan Islam di Indonesia dan Turki.
Dengan begitu banyaknya kegiatan selama “masa liburan summer” di Jakarta, habislah energi untuk melaporkan perjalanan Obama menuju kursi AS-1.
Tetapi tenang saja, Obama. Namamu tak lantas terhapus dari memori ini. Di Jakarta, utak atik gatuk mengenai probabilitas ente memenangkan pemilihan presiden Amerika Serikat bulan November nanti adalah topik yang paling sering ditanyakan teman-teman kepada saya, selain topik mengenai Komite Bangkit Indonesia (KBI) dan jalan baru yang mereka tawarkan plus soal pencalonan diri Rizal Ramli menjadi pemimpin perubahan.
Lalu, proyek menerbitkan buku ibunda tersayang, Ny. Ann Dunham Stanley-Soetoro, pun terus berlanjut. Beberapa pekan lalu, pihak penerbit menghubungi saya, dan mengatakan semua urusan dengan keluarga Ibu Ann Dunham, yang diwakili Maya Soetoro, sudah selesai. Saya malah diminta memberi kata pengantar. Tadinya, penerbit memberi deadline tanggal 20 Agustus, hari ini. Tetapi, setelah saya rayu sedikit, antara lain dengan alasan saya merasa perlu menuliskan kata pengantar itu di Honolulu, kampung halamanmu, mereka akhirnya setuju mengundurkan deadline hingga awal September.
Kalau tak ada aral melintang, buku yang diangkat dari disertasi Ibu Ann Dunham itu akan diterbitkan bulan Oktober, sebelum ente, semoga saja, mengalahkan John McCain.
Saat saya nongkrong di Yahoo Cafe di Narita Airport ini, saya menemukan sepucuk email yang dikirimkan Obama di inbox lycos. Sebetulnya, sepanjang summer ini saya menerima begitu banyak email dari Obama dan tim sukss yang mendampinginya. Obama, maaf karena baru email ini yang dapat aku respon.
Dalam emailmu ini Obama bercerita tentang sepuluh orang terpilih yang beruntung berada di belakangnya saat iasecara resmi dinominasikan sebagai calon presiden dari Partai Demokrat di Denver nanti.
Wuih, sayang, Obama tak memilihku.
Ini adalah kutipan utuh dari email yang dikirimkan Obama itu. Termasuk profil kesepuluh pendukung Obama yang beruntung.
As you may have heard, 10 supporters will be joining me backstage before I accept the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
I’m pleased to announce that those supporters have been selected, and I wanted to tell you a little about them.
The people who make up our movement are of all different ages, races, and backgrounds — and these folks are no different.
Lenny is a former naval officer from Emerald Isle, NC. Barb is a teacher married to a farmer in Fallon, MT. James is a law student in Massillon, OH. And Anne is a retired budget analyst from Indianapolis.
John from Boulder, CO, believes developing alternative energy is the answer to an array of policy problems. And Kayla from West Fargo, ND, didn’t feel like she could ever be part of the political process — until now.
They each bring their own unique perspectives and experience, and they are united by their hunger for change.
You can read more about these amazing people below. I’m looking forward to meeting them at the Open Convention, and I hope you will join us in sharing this important moment.
If you cannot make it to Denver, you can get together with your friends and family and watch my acceptance speech at a Convention Watch Party. It’s going to be a big night, and you can join millions of supporters across the country to make it a success.
Sign up to host or attend a Convention Watch Party in your community on Thursday, August 28th:
Thank you for your belief in our ability to bring real change to this country. You continue to grow and strengthen our movement in ways no one thought possible.
Meet the 10 supporters who will join me backstage at the Open Convention in Denver:
Barb Sackman of Fallon, Montana
Barb is a teacher living in Fallon, Montana, a town of 150. She lives on her family’s wheat and cattle farm, and rising fuel prices are making it hard to get by. She hopes Barack’s plan for alternative bio-fuels will help the struggling economy in rural Montana. Barb volunteers for her church, sits on a hospital board, and organizes community events in Fallon. Barb says Barack “genuinely cares about the problems of people like me. We appreciate his continued trips to Montana to let us know that we are not forgotten.” She will attend the convention with her husband.
Lenny Julius of Emerald Isle, North Carolina
Lenny is a retired naval officer who believes the Iraq War was a serious strategic mistake. He says that in 2000 he looked forward to seeing John McCain, a fellow shipmate, in the Oval Office, having known and served with him in Vietnam — but no more. “Senator McCain has become a strong supporter of the Bush policies — policies which have led to disaster both at home and abroad.” He was won over by Barack’s communication skills, leadership abilities, and intelligence. Lenny is an auto parts manager at AutoZone in Emerald Isle, a heavily Republican town where he says there are many “closet Barack supporters.” Lenny remembers staying up late when he was young to watch John F. Kennedy accept the nomination at the last truly open convention in 1960. He will come to the convention this year with his wife.
Anne Rector of Indianapolis, Indiana
Anne is a retired budget analyst for the federal government. She says the first time she saw Barack at the 2004 convention, she thought, “This is Everyman. He is Kansan and he is Kenyan; he is African and he is Anglo-American; he is common sense and he is eloquence; he is dynamic and he is down to earth.” Anne is an active volunteer for the campaign, as well as for a local animal protection group. She hosts a weekly local radio program named Art and Review, in which she reads to the blind. Anne strongly believes in the protection of our civil liberties. She will attend with a friend and fellow campaign supporter.
James T. Fondriest of Massillon, Ohio
James, a 22-year-old law student and graduate of Ohio State University, never thought he would vote for anyone other than a Republican. An active Bush-Cheney supporter in 2004, he became disillusioned with his state party and Republicans’ handling of Iraq, health care, and education. “Barack Obama has inspired me to believe in politics again and, most importantly, the power of the ordinary citizen,” he writes. “Although I still identify as a Republican and still stand for some conservative values, I finally feel like America has found a leader it can look up to and trust.” Leading up to the Ohio primary, James made over 500 “Buckeyes for Obama” T-shirts and donated the profits to the campaign. He plans to bring his father with him to the convention.
John Volkmar of Boulder, Colorado
John served in the U.S. Army for 10 years. He says his two tours in Iraq with the 10th Special Forces Group opened his eyes to “the link between our country’s lack of an effective energy policy and our flawed foreign policy.” John believes changing this relationship is an essential step towards ensuring that our government works for the interest of the American people instead of special interest groups. He is now pursuing an MBA and hopes to work in the alternative energy industry. He is coming to Denver with his wife.
Marsha Shearer of Orlando, Florida
Marsha is a retired elementary school principal. She has phone banked and canvassed for Obama in Florida, and has been a supporter since even before Barack made the decision to run. Marsha believes that both the Iraq War and America’s dependence on oil are negatively affecting the health of our economy. She supports Barack because he is not a typical politician. “He represents something above and beyond,” she says. “I haven’t felt so energized since McCarthy, trying to end the Vietnam War.” She will bring her college-age granddaughter to the convention.
Trinace Johnson of Richmond, Virginia
Trinace is a single mother and disabled veteran who served overseas for the Iraq War. She currently works for the U.S. Army as a public affairs specialist. She has voted since the age of 18, but this is the first time she has actively been involved with a political campaign. Trinace is inspired by Senator Obama’s message of change and his plans to address all of the issues that she cares deeply about: veterans’ support, education, stopping the war, tax breaks for the middle class, gas prices and health care. Trinace became motivated to get involved when her neighborhood ran out of ballots in the primaries, and is determined to ensure access to voting in this election. “I wish I could be there in Denver,” she wrote to Backstage with Barack. “I would love to be a part of this historical event. [It’s] so long overdue.” Trinace will attend the convention with her sister.
Eric Melder of Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Eric is a 59-year-old married father of three sons and a grandparent to seven grandchildren. A retired YMCA director, he has worked at Diakon Wilderness Center for the past 13 years counseling young men with drug, alcohol, and family problems. “The boys call me ‘E-rock’ and I do all I can to make a difference in their lives,” writes Eric. A self-proclaimed “values voter” and evangelical Christian, Eric switched his allegiance from Mike Huckabee to Barack, convinced by Barack’s ability to lead and build coalitions. Eric is bringing Anthony, a former student at the Wilderness Center, who overcame immense hardships, including an absent father and a drug-addicted mother, to ultimately become Program Director of the Center. “Barack needs to meet him,” Eric says.
Holly Miowak Stebing of Anchorage, Alaska
Holly, a 20-year-old Alaska Native Inupiaq, is spending her summer break from Stanford University at the First Alaskans Organization interviewing native elders about their experiences with segregation. Holly is passionate about improving healthcare access for Native Americans, and protecting Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling. The 2008 presidential election is Holly’s first as a voter. She says: “This was the first campaign I felt I needed to support. I don’t have a lot of money, but I donate what I can because I believe in [Barack].” She will attend the convention with her mother who is the first Native American woman to pass the Alaska bar.
Kayla Whitaker of West Fargo, North Dakota
Kayla is a 20-year-old student and evangelical Christian who credits Barack for her newfound interest in the political process. “As a Christian, I have seen it repeated that evangelical Christians are ‘required’ to vote Republican. When I heard Barack’s ‘Call to Renewal’ speech, I was surprised… This is change I can believe in and many other young, evangelical Christians can believe in, too. For the first time in my life, I got hooked on politics.” She now plans to register to vote so that she can cast her ballot for Barack in November. Among Kayla’s top concerns are health care, teacher pay, and the environment. In an effort to convince her mom to become involved in politics, she is bringing her to Denver.