Barack Obama just slapped me in the face. Figuratively. It’s not like he wound up and threw an Amy Winehouse-style haymaker, but he did manage to catch me square on the proverbial chin. It’s not like I have a glass jaw either – I do, after all, work in the homeland security space where most of my days are spent evaluating risk as a function of threat and consequence as they relate to our nation’s critical infrastructures and key resources. However, I must say, as an Obama supporter, I’m none too pleased about the blow.

Here’s how it went down: After finally deciding who to support in this race, I elected to put my money where my mouth is and make a donation to the campaign. Amazingly, it turns out that Obama wants ‘change’ from everyone but me!

When I logged onto the Barack Obama campaign website this morning, I had every intention of making a small contribution to ‘support the cause.’ That is, until I realized Obama was refusing to accept my financial support. No joke, he’s not taking my money! Apparently Mr. “hey let’s bring everyone together under the big tent that is America” meant everyone except me (and my kind).

What makes my money so dirty that it’s not worthy of being counted in Barack’s treasure trove? I’ll tell you. My donation was refused because, as part of my work duties as a homeland security consultant, I registered as a lobbyist. Oh the horror of it all!

That’s right, I sometimes lobby Congress. I admit it, now break out the cuffs. According to Barack Obama, my sin is so egregious that my mother should be ashamed of me. The real kicker here is who I’ve chosen to lobby for – not the good folks from big tobacco or the oil companies, but the real scum of the earth: drinking water utilities!

Please don’t hate me for being crazy enough to educate Congress about the very real dangers our nation’s drinking water providers are faced with on a daily basis, one of which is the intentional contamination of our water supply by terrorist groups who have stated that such an attack is a priority threat vector for them.

I wonder what it is about me and my career that Obama finds so offensive? Is it my Master’s degree in Homeland Security; my expertise in critical infrastructure protection; or the fact that I’m a subject matter expert in the field of water security?

Perhaps Barack is upset that my job is to help drinking water utilities receive the resources they need to maintain resilient systems capable of providing quality water service in an all hazards threat environment. How dare I strive to ensure that utilities can maintain public health! “Sorry Mom, you deserve better.” I should have selected an honorable career, like being a professional politician.

Barack Obama is not an elitist; he is a ‘careerist.’ He discriminates against me (and my kind) because of the careers we’ve chosen. He does so without even taking the time to consider if, on an individual basis, we’re engaged in a public service. Dear Senator, can you possibly imagine what it would be like to be lumped together with a group of people based on one common characteristic and then forced to live life dispelling untruths and hurtful stereotypes? Wow, what a strange idea that such a thing could occur.

As a careerist, Obama feels empowered to make sure everyone knows that when it comes to lobbyists, he doesn’t like ‘those people.’ In fact, he openly goes even further by stating that he does not, nor will he if elected president, listen to ‘them.’ Who would have thought that the great change of 2008 would be to trample on my constitutionally guaranteed right to petition Congress? You go sir!

Being branded with the label of ‘lobbyist’ and being denied the opportunity to fully contribute to the political process is upsetting. Even more upsetting, however, is that despite my hopes to the contrary, our nation may be facing a “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” situation.

Let me explain. For the past eight years, I’ve seen a president consistently ignore the advice of experts. The results have been a mismanaged war, a botched response to Katrina and a terrible economy. Should Obama become president, there are going to be people like me – experts in particular areas that happen to be registered lobbyists – around wanting to give him counsel. We’ll want to talk about infrastructure replacement, asset management, infrastructure protection, response and recovery capabilities, and many other issues impacting homeland security. My concern is that as a careerist, Obama won’t listen. Despite what my resume indicates or my expertise actually entails, I’m a registered lobbyist and, in Obama’s eyes, am therefore tainted. Stick a fork in me, I’m done – I’ve got nothing left to offer, right?

Call me crazy, but having a president who is unwilling to listen to others isn’t the kind of ‘change’ I’m looking for. I want a leader who will judge me on the content of my character and not on my registration status. I want someone who can admit he doesn’t have all of the answers and seeks guidance from those in the know. I want someone who is a true ‘uniter’ who recognizes that there is strength in learning from others and has the bravery to accept help from ALL of us. Can we do it? Dare I say, ‘Yes we can’ or at least we’ll see…

Read L. Vance Taylor’s full biography.

L. Vance Taylor has worked to advance the mission of homeland security on Capitol Hill and in the private sector. One of only approximately 250 people in the nation with a Master’s degree in Homeland Security, Mr. Taylor combines specialized educational training with real-world experience to leverage successful outcomes for clients and stakeholders. Read More