Friday, November 7, 2008

Yes we did.

Three nights ago, history was made, the magnitude of which I will be lucky to see again in my lifetime. A huge victory was made for civil rights, democracy, peace, and for all Americans. For the first time in my adult life, I feel patriotic, in the way I think patriotism should really feel: not that I am amped up because my country is going out to kick some ass, but that I am proud of our democracy and of the minds of the people here who have been able to accept change and to change their minds about what is best for the country, and how we can achieve a level of wellbeing here that affects everyone. I am so unspeakably heartened by the support our country has given Barack Obama, by the respect that he has been given by (most) members of the opposing party, and the acclaim and love he has earned around the world. I am proud to have cast a vote for him, and I am inexpressibly happy that so many others did the same, that we may have him as our leader.

I may never get to have another experience like this in my lifetime, so I am trying to savour the feeling, even though it is still a bit surreal. I want to remember how election day felt, how America took to the streets to hope and pray and cheer and vote, and how I spent the evening with some of my best friends, eating and drinking and hoping against hope, and how when each blue state came through on the news, we jumped up and down and felt the possibilities get bigger and bigger. And how when the final call came through, and every news channel broadcast the banner of "Obama officially projected to win the presidency," the world laughed and cried and hugged, and those of us at Leah's apartment in southeast cheered and embraced, and lovers kissed, and we all settled down to watch John McCain concede gallantly in one of the best speeches I've heard him give. And finally, on this November night when we collectively changed the world, Barack Obama walked onto a stage to speak in front of 125,000 in Chicago and countless millions around the world. Champagne in hand, leaning on Matt and squeezing Bonnie's hand tightly, I watched a man who has inspired the world accept the presidency of the United States in the humblest of victories, reminding America and the world that this victory is only the beginning of the things we must achieve, and that we all must continue to work hard and stick together in these toughest of times. I feel incredibly lucky that I got to spend that historic moment with some of my very dearest friends, all so moved there were tears running down many faces. As Obama finished his speech and cheers rose up around the world, my friends and I drank to him and to America and to the future, in celebration of an event that our grandchildren will ask us about, and that has inspired the hearts of millions and restored faith in America and the things it has always meant to stand for.

Hopemongering has succeeded. We have elected an African American president, a man who 250 years ago would have not been considered a human being by most of this country. We have come so far, yet we still have far to go. This is what makes me believe that Obama is, as my coworkers say, real; he inspires us and makes us believe in ourselves, and at every stage along the way, has reminded us that electing him is a great victory, but that in itself won't solve everything. We have to stay committed to the things we want to help him achieve, and we all have to tighten our belts and do what is needed to help this broken country heal. He knows there is no overnight cure, but he knows where to start, and how to proceed. He has never given up hope, and has proved that that in itself can do much to help achieve what was thought to be impossible. Also, he knows how to express himself. He is incredibly educated, articulate, and can talk off the cuff like he's giving a well-thought-out speech, and can read off the teleprompter like he's making it up on the spot. He talks to us like equals, doesn't hide the challenges we face, and his good heart is not hidden by political pandering or jaded by failure; it shines through whenever he speaks, and in the smile that will now be preserved forever in history books on the face of the man who has broken through those racial barriers that still remain in America to win the hearts of the world and help us mend what is broken in the United States and overseas.

We did it. We spoke for change, we voted for it, and our voices were heard. We have together changed the world, and we will never be the same again.

"In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope." --Barack Obama