04 November 2008

Early Thoughts on Election Night

I was glued to the TV today. Well, actually it was the Internet…MSNBC to be exact. I definitely didn’t plan on doing it, but I listened to their live stream from about 10:30 in the morning until 11:00 tonight. (I am even listening to it right now, in fact) It was not until I realized that I could not seem to pull myself away from the news that I also realized how invested I was in this election. I have been studying it for various reasons since this summer, but I never thought I would be this passionate about it. And now that it is over I am just so proud. It is not just because “my candidate” won…even though I will now admit, he did. I will now strongly say that I am confident in my decision for Obama…but I am proud for so many reasons other than that.

I am proud that despite the craziness and, at times, negativity of this election, we are one step closer to being a truly united country. This is in large part to Obama’s campaign method, and I truly hope, what will be his presidency. But it is not about him or McCain or Joe the Plumber or whoever. It is about a nation of individuals coming together as one. I think it is so evident in Obama’s acceptance speech, that he only won because we came together as one country to elect him, and he will not accomplish anything without this same unity. Even more important, it is also evident in McCain’s exit speech that we must continue down this road of acting as one nation instead of based on red or blue states. After so many years of division, I am so proud to think that we are finally on the right path towards unity, no matter our political (or any other, for that mater) orientation.

I am proud that as a country, we elected a black person. I was talking with my roommate about it and she was so wise in saying that while she and I (being white) may not be able to fully understand the complete significance as much as a black person, coming from a place where we have experienced prejudice based on our gender or our faith or whatever the case may be, it is so incredibly meaningful to know that America broke through this barrier. As Obama walked out to give his acceptance speech and his family came out with him, I could not help from crying. How amazing it is to know that we can rise above our differences and become a nation of one instead of a nation based on individual separation. Being a student of history, how magnificent it is to see how far we have come. From the Civil War, to Martin Luther King Jr, to President (elect) Obama, I have no words for how proud I am of our country. Furthermore, I am also proud that until this point, this election was not about race. Obama never played the race card, and McCain never played it either. I believe, and am so proud that Americans (by and large) voted based on issues and candidates more so than skin color. I believe that because of our refusal to let it run the election race, we have now earned the right to celebrate Obama’s win as a monumental step for black people, not just in America, but all over the world. We have earned the right to rejoice in his victory, and I am proud of us.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, I am so, so, so incredibly proud of my generation. The millennials, as we are called. There is a photo that I just saw on the MSNBC website (I tried to put it on here, but it wont let me copy the picture) of the reaction of some young Obama supporters as they found out that he had won: most people had looks of utter joy and amazement, some were crying, and right in the middle of the shot, there is a young woman kneeling down on the ground with her hands over her mouth and her eyes shut (most likely filled with tears) because she is just so overwhelmed by emotion. I think this so telling of our generation in this election: we are in awe that our vote actually mattered and we are overwhelmed by our own investment in one man, and in our actions because of it. Just like I did not realize how passionate about the election I was until I started crying when I found out Obama won, I think that we are all sort of surprised by how much we cared about this, given what society has told us we care about. After all, aren’t we supposed to be the generation that only cares about our iPods and Facebook accounts? I know for me, at least, my tears were as much in the relief in knowing after so many months of caring, as much as they were in the joy of seeing Mr. Obama win. I am so proud that we believed in ourselves and in our own power to have an effect on the course of this country and on the global community. Everyone has been saying that we hold so much power, and I am so proud that we believed it and acted upon it. Whether we voted for McCain or Obama, I am just so proud that we voted. We refused to be apathetic. We refused to be ignorant. We studied the issues and the candidates, we thought critically, and we voted. No matter who we voted for, we were truly united. I am proud to say that it is our turn now. It is our turn to change the world. And I have very confidence that we will do so with passion, and intelligence and (I greatly hope), a humility that will affect change without creating arrogance. I truly believe that we will react according to an understanding of the magnitude of our actions not only for this country, but for the world…and not only for our generation, but for the many to come.

I am so glad this whole election is over. I am excited for our new president. But I am not so optimistic that I don’t have doubts. I am worried about issues like abortion and I am worried that Obama’s goals might be just too much to attain. But I am hopeful. And that, I think, is the most important thing. I always go back to one of my very favorite quotes…a statement from Jim Wallis in his essay Faith Works: “Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change… Hope is the single most important ingredient for changing the world.” I am hopeful for our unity as a country and I am hopeful for the actions of my generation. I am hopeful that Obama will lead this country with humility and grace, but also with assertion and wisdom. I am hopeful that we are on the right path to becoming a better country, both for ourselves and for our world. I have hope and I am confident that the hope of our nation will be enough to better the future of our world.

Thanks for reading my random (long) and probably completely unreadable thoughts. I hope, but kind of doubt, that they made any sense!

If you want to hear something absolutely amazing, watch Obama’s acceptance speech… I am sure you can find it anywhere right now!

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