OMG, I haven't talked about the speeches yet! I won't be so wordy this time. Let me just say this about that:
I loved Obama's victory speech. It brought tears to my eyes. I will go to hell and back for this man. Just say the word, President Obama, and I'll do it. I hope and pray that we as a nation will follow this man to the kind of healing, the kind of unification that ran all through his speech. This is President-Elect Obama saying, "Dr. King, your dream is alive and well! Only now, we've all crossed into the dream world, and left the old world behind."
I also have to say that Sen. McCain's concession speech was the best concession speech I've ever heard by a good bit. (It's also the first time I've seen The Real McCain, the guy I once considered voting for, in many months.) I've heard classy concession speeches before, but this one was much, much more than that. This was a speech that said, "It's time to put away our disagreements and realize the magnitude of what we have just accomplished." I thought it was truly honorable of the guy to bury his ego, right there in front of the whole world, in front of a crowd that would go to the ends of the earth for him, and say, "We just made history, and you need to go follow this guy now. I will." I hope people follow his lead, because his attitude is exactly what we need to be able to access all of the possibilities that Obama's speech was loaded with. What a tremendous yin and yang those two speeches were.
One thing before my actual post: as I type, I'm sitting in the food court in Chicago Midway Airport, with a long layover between flights, as in greater than 3 hours. If I were still 30, I would've left the airport and taken a train or a cab into downtown, just to see if people are still having afterglow celebrations. But I've been to Chicago a lot of times before, and I haven't heard anything about spontaneous celerations here, so I opted for the gyros at the food court (tasty and cheap!), rather than racing into town, only to turn around and come bac. But still, how cool would that have been if there were some kind of hubbub in Grant Park?
As I was on my way into the airport in the car park shuttle bus, the driver asked the passengers (a dude decked out in clothes that shouted WRANGLER in 4-6 inch tall letters, I kid you not (did I mention that I live in Texas?)) "So, what do y'all think about Obama?" I quickly expressed my approval, and Mr. Wrangler got a really uncertain look on his face..."Well, I'm kinda nervous about it, really. Not too happy about it at all." I asked the driver how she felt about Obama, and she said, "I'm really happy, I think he's gonna be great!"
I said to Mr. Nervous Wrangler, "I guess we'll have to wait and see how he does, won't we?" Nice neutral statement. He said, "Yeah, I'm just nervous because I actually like a lot of the things he's been saying lately, but I'm worried he's really very liberal and will take us way off in that direction." We went on to discuss whether or not Obama's highly-effective coalition he built would simply be jettisoned as soon as he took office. Mr. NW aknowledged that Obama's a smart guy, and admitted it would be dumb to do that. I agreed that such a move seemed unlikely, since he'd lose all his momentum.
Then the guy proceeds to tell me:
- It was definitely time for a change, but Obama might be too much
- That doesn't mean he has a problem with race - he would've voted for Colin Powell in a heartbeat
- He's mostly worried about Obama's "past associations," which, with some prodding, he modifies to "muslim asoociations."
I said I bet we'll find out REAL FAST if there's anything to that. He agreed. Then I politely said I thought the whole "muslim associations" bit was a load of crap stirred up by fearmongers (I didn't use the words "crap" or "fearmonger"). His parting words on the subject of Obama were basically, "I really hope this guy is for real, and means what he's been saying lately, because he could do a lot of good, if he just won't go nuts."
I think Mr. Hopeful Nervous Wrangler speaks for a lot of people. In my opinion, there were an awful lot of folks in Texas and across the country who say they could vote for a person of color for president, if it were the right guy. But, somewhere inside, below the exterior of manners we all maintain, they are afraid to do so. They can't name any specific reason, just a general misgiving.
It's the same thing as some people feeling uncomfortable when they walk or even drive through a poor part of town with a lot of highly visible people of color. Nobody wants to say, "I'm afraid of this many black/hispanic/asian/whatever people in one place," but that's what it is. It's not a sin to feel that way - but it's a huge missed opportunity for growth if you don't ask yourself why, try to do something about it, confront it within yourself. It's a product of our collective social karma that we're working off, and working off karma can be really uncomfortable.
So, along comes an incredible, smart, inspirational candidate who happens to be black, and there we are again, figuratively locking the car doors and trying not to stop at the light if not absolutely necesary. Then, the haters bring out the Rev Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Lunch with a Palestinian, and whatever other red herrings they could come up with. This is all that a lot of the vague discomfort folks needed to give a name to their fears.
This is one of the reasons I am so excited right now. A person could get really depressed that we collectively still have all these demons, but WE ELECTED THE GUY! And now, we get the opportunity to see that he's not a secret terrorist, he's not a whack job, he's not a bad guy. This will help us to heal this cancer, which is why I can be hopeful.
I think Obama is going to change the conversation in Washington, because so many of the Democrats rode his coattails to office, I think he's going to have a lot of sway. I really don't like the way the Democrats have run Congress the last two years - I think if anything, they've had a tendency to increase the partisanship and divisiveness in Congress, and I believe that Obama is going to do his best to put an end to that. I only hope, like I've said before, that his own party will go along with him.
I think Mr. HNW speaks for a lot of people who were McCain supporters in being really nervous, but willing to give the guy a chance. In the end, this kind of leadership will have a tremendous healing effect on our nation, and will definitely represent Change We Can Live With if people will just let themselves go along.
Let's not screw it up, people.
P.S.: I told the driver as I exited the bus, "I think Obama's going to be fantastic, too! But I had to be nice to the guy, because he's really nervous, and I have to respect that." She smiled and wished me safe travels.
11/5/08 12:54 pm - Pride
I couldn't be prouder to be an American today.
I am more hopeful for our great country at this moment in time than I can remember being before. Barack Obama's victory in this presidential election is our own Berlin Wall coming down.
Just think: in about 11 weeks, every child born in this country will be born in a country that's had an African-American president. My best friend's wife will be giving birth in February, and I know he's pretty stoked about this, which is what made me think of it.
I am so proud that we as a country have been able to get over ourselves, to get over our past, to get over a lot of the fearmongering that was thrown around, take a deep breath and punch that chad, pull that lever, touch that screen, press that button, or however else we voted, and elect this guy. I believe that we have before us an opportunity to come together to an extent that has only been possible, during my lifetime, immediately after 9/11 - an opportunity that was woefully squandered, in my opinion. I really, sincerely hope that the President-elect is as successful at building coalitions within government as he has been in communities, and that our elected officials will allow themselves to participate.
Go, President Obama! (Nope, I'm not tired of saying it yet.)