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October 22, 2008

Madonna, The Election and Me

1 I've never been politically active.  Sure, I voted.  But basically, I picked my candidate and crossed my fingers.  Sometimes I was on the winning side.  Sometimes I wasn't. 

But this Presidential election is different for me.  I'm obsessed.  I'm transfixed by the news and political blogs.  I'm calling voters, wearing campaign buttons, going to fundraising parties and Twittering my opinions.  I even went to my first political rally.  It wasn't one of those poster waiving events you see on TV.  Instead, it was a Madonna concert. 

I first saw Madonna in 1991.  I was with my parents and thus a little embarrassed by her cone-shaped bra and creative bed dance.  On this latest tour, the new Madonna is a fighter.  She sports boxing gear; her dancers face off in a ring and a video of a boxer plays on a screen.  In her personal life, she is a literal fighter, facing her husband in a divorce. But it is on stage where she is truly fighting, issuing a call to action.  It's a call to save the planet and to elect Barack Obama.

During the show, she plays a video depicting the earth as a ticking clock and the minutes are counting down.  Next come images of consumerism, global warming, poverty, famine, disaster and infamous dictators.  Madonna sings, "Get up, it's time, your life, your world, your life...It's time for you to read the signs.  Your world, your choice.  You don't have the luxury of time... You've got to say what's on your mind.  The time is now.  If you wait too long it will be too late. Let's Go."

The video then transitions to leaders who are symbols of peace and have effected positive change in the world.  Mother Theresa, Mandela, the Dalai Lama.  John Lennon and Bono.  Kennedy, Clinton and Gore.  And then, at the very end, the lasting image is of Barack Obama.

As the video ended, the crowd went wild. I took out my earplugs to join the screaming.  And there was more screaming later, when Madonna turned to some people who were sitting down and said, "Stand up. Are you friends of Sarah Palin or something? Are you Republicans?"  She's been doing this riff at many of her concerts.  She even likens Todd Palin's snowmobile, when it won't start, to a horrible instrumental noise.  Sure, it's a little mean, but she's Madonna. That's the way she rolls.

And I'm with her on this one.  To me, this election is a referendum on the past and the status quo.  It's an opportunity to move forward and pick a leader who has a vision.  John Kennedy famously said we could put a man on the moon within ten years and it happened.  My mom held me on her lap as she watched the footage on the news.

Today, Barack Obama and Joe Biden say we can be free of foreign oil in ten years.  They envision an economy driven by green jobs, American-made hybrid cars and renewable energy.  And because of this, they give me hope that we will not doom our kids to a diminished United States and a destroyed planet.  They give me hope that through new technologies we can crawl out of our economic hole and our oil-driven downward spiral.  They give me hope that someday our kids will say that they sat on my lap as they watched Barack Obama win.

In the final song of her concert, Madonna puts on a pair of dark-rimmed Sarah Palin-esque glasses.  She continues to dance, giving it every ounce of energy she has.  She's 50 years old and keeping up with people half her age.  She makes it look effortless, but you know she endures hours of rehearsals.  Then, as the song ends, a huge video screen appears with the words, "GAME OVER."

Game over for the concert, time to go home.  Two days later I read it was game over for her marriage, as well.  Most importantly, I think she was saying there's a larger "game over" going on here. 

It's game over with this election.  We can't continue to ignore our impact on the environment.  We can't continue our dependence on oil; it will eventually run out. We can't continue to run our country on credit without repercussions.  We can't keep electing politicians who want to play a game, gambling with our future.

Get up, everyone. It's time.

Original Post to New York Moms Blog. Andi Silverman is the author of "Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner's Guide to Breastfeeding" (Quirk Books 2007).  She also runs the blog Mama Knows Breast.

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