The wisdom of the "Tao Te Ching" captures the chaos and the energy of this remarkable political season: When you think you know, that is when you do not know. But when you know that you do not know, that is when you know. Pollsters and pundits beware. All the high-tech touch-screen maps and scientific exit polling in the world cannot read the waves inside the human heart.
After Iowa, Hillary Clinton was toast. Last summer, John McCain was advised to drop out of the race. Mike Huckabee, who doesn't believe in evolution, only appeared dead. Now, like Lazarus, evangelicals have raised him through the power of prayer. As for Barack Obama, apparently hope and inspiration are stronger " especially among the young " than cynicism and political machines. Those e-mails going around that claim he is a Muslim " they actually backfired.
Having lived in Oklahoma for 25 years " and remembering the bumper stickers that said "impeach the president, and her husband too!" " it is strange to see Clinton win anything in Oklahoma, especially when she may be the only candidate who is capable of losing the election, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Of course any yellow dog in the known universe would be better than what we have, but for the sake of this excited younger generation, whose perilous future we must now secure, can we please expand the presidential field beyond two families? Clinton was right about that "vast right-wing conspiracy," but if she wins the nomination, she will energize it like no one else. "Swiftboating" will return with a vengeance, and the blue-state, red-state divide will deepen.
From the first time I heard Obama speak, at the 2004 Democratic convention, I recognized a politician whose time had come, and I felt something that I have not felt since Bobby Kennedy: hope. Remember hope? It's the one thing for which there is no acceptable alternative.
If you have chosen to support Obama over Clinton because you refuse to have a female president, shame on you. But if you support Clinton over Obama because you refuse to have a black president, then shame on you.
This country needs the next president to have opposed the war from the beginning. It needs a president who can restore eloquence to the office, because the presidency requires extraordinary rhetorical skills. It needs someone who has not taken corporate money, and can begin the epic battle against the "corporocracy."
We need to cross both lines (race and gender), but we can't do it simultaneously. That's why this election, more than any in my lifetime, gives us a chance to resist falling into the old ways of Washington politics. Obama split the white male vote in Georgia, and is the product of an interracial marriage that was illegal in Oklahoma until 1966. I know Republicans who will vote for him, but I know of no Republicans who will vote for Clinton.
But by far the biggest argument for Obama has flown mostly under the radar. Imagine that you are one of a billion Muslims in the world, and you wake up one morning to discover that the president of the United State is named Barack Hussein Obama. Now the "Great Satan" has confused all your stereotypes. Now the face of the infidel looks a lot like your own. That's reason to hope.
Parents, listen to your children.
Meyers is minister of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City and professor of rhetoric in the philosophy department at Oklahoma City University. His sermons can be heard at 9:30 a.m. Sundays on KOKC-AM 1520.