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I’ve been struggling for weeks with who I want to vote for in today’s primary. Yup. I haven’t cast my vote yet. In fact, up to just a few minutes ago, I was still going back and forth between you and Barack. And now I finally know. It’s Barack.

I think you are both incredibly talented and have a lot to offer this country. I hope no matter who wins, the other will not back off, but instead continue the fight for what you believe in. Just as I hope John Edwards and the others will. You all have important things to add to the debate and formation of policy.

But, after long, hard thought about you and Barack, and each of your particular virtues and faults (or unknowns), my decision comes down to this: Hillary and Bill, you played the race card and it was ugly. And if I vote for you today, I’m telling the world I think that’s ok. It’s NOT.

After Bill did his attack dog thing – and I do know that’s often the role of the spouse or someone else close to the candidate – I still supported you. I argued this is just politics. I argued he was misunderstood and the media blew it out of proportion. I even argued that the Obama campaign was making something out of nothing. I really like both you and Bill so much.

But in my gut, I knew you did it. And I knew you understood what you did and carefully chose to take the chance anyway. It’s because I respect your talents and intelligence so much that I feel so sure of this. You are way too savvy to have “oopsed” into this. I am sure that you and Bill, along with your closest advisers, discussed this ahead of time, weighed all the permutations carefully (including probable backlash), and with full cognition of all its implications and interpretations still said “we’ve got to do this if we want to win.” And so you did.

With the kind of hubris so many people in your situation fall prey to, you decided it was not ok (read: much more threatening for you) for Barack to be running as just a bright, caring, inspiring, extremely talented man. You wanted to push him into a box labeled black man and make sure he wasn’t creating a new box that transcends such labels. But he does for so many. Young people, for instance, who have been raised in an era of ever-increasing acceptance and ever-decreasing labels, see Barack Obama for who he is, not the color of his skin. They really get him and it’s exciting!

Hillary, you are a woman running for president…can’t you see how unfairly minimizing it is to see either of you as anything other than a whole person rather than viewing you through race- or gender-filtered eyes? (Not that many people aren’t doing that already.) These are the ideals I believe in deeply and have fought so hard for, and I used to think you thought this way too. (I still kind of, for the most part, think you do. I like to believe you and Bill erred in the name of winning and have learned from your mistake.)

But by forcing the black issue, after for so long being embraced by African Americans all over this country for championing their causes, you left me feeling very uncomfortable. You knew the rules and you consciously played the race card, subtly at times, not-so subtly other times. And now you’ve backed off because it came back to bite you. But I just can’t forget. Not yet.

And so, even though I will gladly support either you or Barack when the historic chance comes – I think both of you could be great for this country – right now it is time for me to stand up for what I believe. It’s just not ok to play the race card. (Nor, of course, the gender card.) Not in my book. And I say that to all the candidates.

So today I vote for Barack Obama. He is a talented man who has done many good things for his constituents and, I believe has a lot to offer this country and the world. He is about unity and hope and telling it like it is (even when he knows a small lie would sell the idea better.) And he is also about seeing the interlocking pieces of the bigger picture and, with that in mind, trying to do things in a truly different way for a change.

Well, Hillary. That’s it…the reason I’m voting for Barack and not you. I hope you hear the sound of my vote loud and clear – all the way to the convention. And now I go vote.

Update: Just voted for Barack Obama and it felt great! Whatever your beliefs, just vote for the candidate who best represents you and your hopes for this country. We can settle all the differences later if we just agree to work together…for a change.