Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some Morning-After Thoughts

I don't need to tell anyone how big of a deal it is that we elected Barack Obama our president last night. Instead, if you'll bear with me, I'm going to engage in some sentimentalism about my own feelings about this election. It may even cross over into maudlin territory at times. Consider yourself warned.

I wasn't on the Barack Obama love train at first. I'm still not ashamed to say that I supported Hillary in the primaries, mainly because I felt that at the time, Obama hadn't really solidified what he meant when he said "change." I think the long primary season actually forced him to hammer down that message, and as we entered the general election, he was a much stronger candidate because of it. Feeling more comfortable that I had a sense of what an Obama presidency would look like, I finally allowed myself to get swept up in the amazing speeches and the excitement of what could really get done if we made this man our president. Shit, I even gave him $25. (That's hard for a grad student!)

So, like so many people did last night, once Barack finished speaking, I cried. (But only a little.) I cried because for the first time in my adult life, I would have a president I could feel confident in. I cried to release all the stress I had put myself through while worrying about the prospect of a McCain presidency. I cried out of joy. But I think I cried mostly because I had convinced myself it couldn't happen. I had told myself that America was too racist to elect any non-white person president, and I thought they wouldn't be able to go through with it, despite all the favorable polling. Hell, if you had told me 4 years ago that in 4 years, we would have a black president, I would have told you that we'd be lucky to have one in 40 years. My mother, born in 1949, thought until recently she would never see a black president. So as it sunk in for me that he had actually won, and by such a large margin, I cried out of extreme satisfaction to know that I was wrong.

Now, that's not to say we've eliminated the racial problems we have in this country, and it's not to say that I'm always going to agree with the decisions Obama makes as president. I'd like to think that I'm going to be able to maintain objectivity as his administration moves forward and truly assess whether he's making the right decisions. But for now, I'm content to revel in this amazing moment.

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