Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Change We Need

I feel like I've been holding my breath for six months. I've gone through the full range of emotions considering this election. I've been angry, interested, disillusioned, disdainfully humoured, hopeful, completely enraged (ahem Sarah Palin), all the way down to a sinking feeling of disappointment. I've had my face stuck in every single news outlet my little head could process. Which is to say a lot because at the beginning of all this I was skeptical to say the least. I wasn't planning on voting for anyone. My motto was, government is still government, it doesn't matter what talking figure head is in control, and I don't like being told how to live my life.

As I've stated before a part of me wanted McCain/Palin to take it, because so many people would be furious. Change was going to come either way. But as I broke out of my little radical mindset and really began to get intimate with the issues at hand I slowly began to realize what was at stake. I thought of my father who has worked his ass off for more than thirty years in the same factory, how first they cut his overtime, then slowly the employees that surround him. In an already busy factory he does the work of four men while his retirement fund slips further and further towards the poverty line. I think of my best friend who has a serious 'preexisting' medical condition that once she graduates will no longer be covered by her school or family insurance. I don't want her to have to make the choice between chipping away at the crushing weight of student loans or her health. I think of the inner city kids of Chicago whose education is no match for mine, a suburban kid, simply because of their location and income level. I think of the people losing their homes, jobs, and dignity. I think about birth control in all it's forms and how under a McCain/Palin administration those choices wouldn't be allowed to me. I think of the people whose basic rights are denied because of their sexual orientation.

The other part of me wanted to like and support this amazingly charismatic man named Barack Obama. With a fistful of cynicism I made the commitment to vote for him, because the alternative was too ghastly for me to imagine. I wanted to spend my time fighting for the ideals of a lifestyle based on mutual aid and self discovery not the basic rights that I feel should be granted to every person in the world (food, shelter, choice, freedom of religion). But as I began to learn more about this man it is not a lesser of two evils scenario that caused me to vote for him it's the unyielding sense of optimism that rests in my heart. It's hope that leads me to tears.

This morning sitting at my computer I cannot hold back the tears. For once with cynicism pushed to the back of my mind I will let that very real sense of hope that Barack Obama trumpets invade my very being. This man inspired millions with not only his charisma, but truly with his words and ideals. I was cynical, I still am cynical, but along side cynicism an unrelenting hope. Because the most radical, the most angry, the most down trodden, all cling to hope. Hope of something stronger something better hope for an alternative better than what we've had for the past 200 years and 43 presidents.

According to BBC news, "Since the end of Reconstruction - the period in the aftermath of the US civil war - there have been just three black US senators. Only two states, Massachusetts and Virginia, have elected a black governor."

With the election of a black president, what many considered the politically impossible has now become real. Barack Obama isn't an oil man, and he doesn't have interests in some other shadowy corporation. He spent his post graduate years practicing civil rights law, representing victims of housing and employment discrimination. He was active in his community making changes that mattered. He has one wife, one house, and one car, or rather he did.

For a country with such a rich history of racism to come together and demand a new leader despite steep odds (latent racism, blatant racism, white supremacist history, general political trends, voter purging, mud slinging etc.) and take on an establishment that repressed anything that even threatened to upset the status quo is truly exciting.

My hope is that somehow the man that sparked so many hearts will follow up on his word, will somehow have the audacity to continue to resist the lure of major corporations and the all mighty dollar staying true to his working class roots and the people he represents. I hope that this man can continue to stoke the flames of an excitement not seen since, well forever.

Last night I marched with a couple thousand college students chanting Obama on the campus of Illinois State University. Their was no fire no destruction just a bunch of half drunk kids of all races, sizes, genders, and colors excited about the history that took place tonight. Did they want to see change? Would they care after a few months? How many of them were first time voters? How many of them will be last time voters, never thinking twice about the change that is purportedly coming. One of the true challenges for Barack Obama is to figure out how to maintain the momentum of not only the youth movement, but of people taking an interest in the political process.

Barack Obama you seem like a cool guy, and I can put stock in a lot of your ideas (except border issues) but please please don't become one of them. Don't fuck this up we're all counting on you. I want to congratulate the American people for overcoming the bullshit that is American history and voting based not on race but on principle, because we all know it doesn't matter what color your paint is, but the art you create with that paint. This is a truly historic event and I'm so glad that it happened in my time. What comes after, time will only tell. This is a defining moment in U.S. history and I hope it sets the precedent for all presidential campaigns to come.

All power to the people. Barack, we'll be watching, please don't disappoint.

Also, speaking of disappointment. Dear California, what kind of self-righteous jerks are you?


Grad School Reject said...

Thank you for this. I've waited all day for it and you did not disappoint.

I share your sentiments and I am choosing to remain optimistic until given reason to revert to cynicism and pessimism.

Also - check your e-mail. I'm sending you a picture of my "word verification" - you won't believe it.

CrystalCabinet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CrystalCabinet said...


Well put, as always.

Yeah I found myself crying last night while I watched Obama addressing Grant Park. My mind was this flurry of all the images and words that I connect with this concept of "America" and what this election (already and potentially) represents. I don't feel that I'm cynical enough about the candidates I support and for some reason this has pushed me to resist all the "hope" and "change" rhetoric that I witnessed others repeating. It doesn't help that I hear all these ignorant folks spewing ignorant folk fail-safes like "ahh he ain't gonna change anything, the President doesn't have any real power" or "well you can't trust any of 'em".

I hate when people make me feel like it's wrong to be hopeful... like it's naive and stupid. It's so fucking sad that people can be so comfortable with being cynical all the time.

Barack Obama is not my messiah. He's my secular miracle. Hope finally hit me last night and I'm not letting go.