Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Have Witnessed History

I am at a loss for words. I've just witnessed the biggest event in American history - I never thought I would see the day that my country, the United States, would elect an African-American as President.

I went over the ballot with my Bohunk, filled it out and drove them down to the Elections Bureau (because I didn't want to trust my vote to too many hands. Am I paranoid? See Election Day 2000 or 2004.) I barely slept Monday night and spent all day Tuesday fidgety and nervous. I ran through my head what I would do if I was let down again...move to Canada? Mexico? Do something bad so the cops could kill me and put me out of my misery? Grin and bear another four years of madness and hope I could keep my family afloat?

I waffled about whether I could watch the returns on TV. I wasn't sure if I could handle Obama's losing to McCain...but I also could not miss history in-the-making if Obama should actually win. I'm glad I made the decision to watch. As the electoral votes kept piling up on the Democratic side of the screen, I became more and more confident and excited. And when MSNBC put Obama's picutre on the screen and proclaimed him the next president of the United States, tears came to my eyes. I called my mother to share the moment with her, lamenting that my grandmother (who lived in a time where neither women or Blacks could vote) did not live long enough to see it happen.

I watched intently as McCain made his very gracious and eloquent concession speech (had he talked like that during the campaign, he might have won it.) I leaned forward when Obama finally came out to make his speech, proclaiming victory for himself and the American people. I stayed up until 1am watching the "post-game analysis." I was too amped up to sleep.

Today, now that I've had a chance to let it all sink in and assess the significance of this event to my life, I am a bit afraid. Afraid that politicians in Congress will be so bitter that they will do everything they can to make Obama ineffective. Afraid that some crazy nutjob will kill Obama before he can do anything worthwhile in office. Afraid that my country is so far gone that Obama can't save it - even though I realize that he can't undo what has been wrought for the past 8 years. And it didn't make me feel any better when McCain supporters booed when the senator mentioned Obama's name and tried to give him his props for a well-run campaign, decisive victory, and to pledge his support in the future when he returns to the Senate.

I find it interesting that the uber-right water-carriers are crying "foul", saying that the early voting must have been fraudulent. Saying that Obama's margin of victory was not that great (um, Bush only "won" by a little bit both times, and he cheated to get it...Obama win = 7,000,000+ popular vote difference, 6 percentage point difference, 2-to-1 electoral votes for him = royal ass-kicking in my book!) Saying that the Democrats do not have a "mandate" because they now control the White House, the House and the Senate (even though Bush said just that when he "won" 7 years ago).

And I'm also concerned that people are saying that, since an African-American has been elected to the highest office in America, racism is dead in our country. Unfortunately, that can't be further from the truth. Granted, I think the numbers of bigots diminish each generation, but this event will not change much right now. There will still be folks who don't like people of color, who think that we should all just go back to Africa, who thihk people like my son (or even Barack Obama) are "abominations" because they are of mixed heritage.

On the other hand, I am encouraged that my son was able to witness history. He said to me, "Obama is like me because he has one white parent and one Black parent. Does that mean I could be president?" I told my son that he could be whatever he wanted.

Yes we can.

I woke up this morning with a renewed sense of hope for me, my family, and my country. Things could get better. Can't really get too much worse than what we've been through so far, right?

Yes we can.

I was happy to see the true diversity of America in the thousands of faces crammed into the park in Chicago, all happy and crying and smiling and laughing and singing.

Yes we can.

I feel motivated to keep working hard to make life better for my family and make the future better for my children. It feels like a weight has been lifted and I can breathe again.

Yes we can.

I hope we can move forward, together, as a united nation, to increase our standing in the world to where it was before, when we were an example to other countries on how to treat others, when we helped others instead of only thinking about ourselves.

Yes we can.