05 November, 2008

By the content of their character

I wrote this for my Livejournal late last night, intending to come up with something more polished this morning. But in the end, I think it was a good post as originally written, so I'm just copying it here.

The tears surprised me. I had been trying so hard all day, not to hope, to prepare myself for going to bed tonight, disappointed, not yet knowing who would win the election, having the outcome precarious.

And then, as I was counting up the tally on the Google election map, they announced it on TV. Obama won. McCain conceded. And I noticed there were tears in my eyes.

I voted for Obama because I believe he will best represent my interests. I voted based on the merits. Intellectually, race didn't matter to me. Obama was the better candidate. Whether he will live up to the promises he has made, whether he will fulfill the hopes that people have piled on top of him, he is still the better candidate to represent me. Intellectually, I was willing to leave it there.

But when they announced that Obama won, I noticed I was crying. And the thought that kept running through my head was, "This is someone who is like me. Someone who looks like me. Someone who had some similar experiences. Someone like me is going to be the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES."

I am still just... awestruck.

The cynical part of my brain keeps analyzing the speeches, keeps aloof, looking at the ways that news reports fall back on a series of cliches; I look at the representations of supporters on each side--white, downcast supporters of McCain; jubilant or crying multiracial supporters of Obama. I analyze, I criticize.

But inside, I feel like my heart has filled up with wonder. That this moment should occur, that I am writing about it right now, tonight... it's amazing to me. There is a level that cynicism and intellectualization can't conquer. Today, November 4th, 2008, a majority of the United States elected someone like me to be president. And I think about all of the little children who will spend the next four--or eight--years with someone who looks like them in the White House. Who will have this example in front of them, as they imagine the possibilities in their lives.

It's a spiritual moment for me as well, and I just want to say "Thank you" to the powers that made this possible.


oatmeal girl said...

I am so totally overwhelmed, awestruck, joy-filled, teary-eyed, and eternally grateful that this man, this person, has been elected, that working all together we elected him and that continuing to work together we will bring about the changes we seek... that I can hardly imagine how much more intense it must be for someone who looks like him.

Working as a volunteer on the campaign (no huge contribution, just another of the many who together wrought a miracle), I came to believe that the process itself would prove to be part of the change. The community of volunteers was warm and excited and united in common purpose. That look in people's eyes... we all had it... I would catch it on the street as I walked by wearing my campaign button... our work united us, and trained us for the four (eight!!) years ahead.

Congratulations to all of us, and special wishes to all of those who look at this moment and say yes, the face of America has changed, and it can look like me.

Indy said...

This is truly an amazing time, an amazing man. My grandmother freaked out, convinced that class wars and race riots would ensue (thank you, Mr. Presdient-Elect, for understanding that many of us have white grandmothers like that, and that they do have redeeming virtues). My parents, who attended whites-only schools in the South, cried with joy to see the country put the 60's behind it. My nephews will grow up thinking it's perfectly normal to have the president be a person of color.

It's just astonishing, and so, so wonderful!

Resident of a Blue State!(for now)

Anonymous said...

YES! Me too.