This is actually an email I wrote to my father who is overseas in response to a little tidbit that he forwarded to me (something his friend heard on the radio this morning), and upon completing it, I felt compelled to post it somewhere. I don’t know why, but I felt the need to capture some of the emotion of the day and share it, and I think this exchange does just that. As this is the only forum I have visited with any regulartity, I present you all with this snapshot of these particular Americans’ thoughts and invite others to do the same…
"Re: FW: The Promise Continues:
'Rosa sat so that Martin could walk. Martin walked so that Obama could run. Obama ran so that our kids could fly'
Goosebumps! And who is credited with the creation of this bit of beauty?
This is weird. I feel all shiny and hopeful on election day! This is really something, and it seems to be a common feeling!
The ladies at the polling place actually took my picture… (They got a kick out of the fact that I went on my Roller Blades with my shoes in tow just in case- I pointed out that I couldn’t very well cast my vote for a Greener Earth and justify driving my car 2 blocks over to do so…) I can say that I really enjoyed handing in my ballot, doing a little roller dancing when it sucked into the machine and the little green light came on, and sticking the “I voted” sticker on my forehead (needless to say, the polls were pretty quiet by the time I went or I might have been a little less ebullient.) The phrase “an historic day…” has been repeated by at least a dozen different sources in the last couple hours.
And you know what? I had an insight as I huffed and puffed my way back up the hill (“Boy, I gotta exercise more,” was the actually the first one, but fast on its heels was this) about how come this election went this way, and why it felt different. I do believe it is the INTERNET that made this possible. I forgot to research this weekend like I planned, so today I pored over the sample ballot for several hours, of course, in front of my computer with the arguments for the propositions and the various candidates information literally at my fingertips. I remember thinking as I read each proposition, “Huh?.. but what the fuck does that mean?” and then turning to Google to find out thinking, “Thank GOD for the Internet!” I completely credit the large voter turnout (particularly with the newly eligible young people) to the wide availability of information that the Internet provides.
I was thinking that I felt like a first time voter today, and I realize it was because today I felt for the first time like I had made informed reasonable choices on my ballot - even on those that maybe I didn’t like either choice, I felt a good responsibility in making a conscious decision in the interest of starting the wheels of change turning in the right direction. I think that when I was younger I felt insecure about voting because I didn’t feel like I knew what I was really voting FOR half the time. I didn’t understand all the politics or the economics. Part of the change in this is perhaps due to maturity in that now I trust in my own philosophy and vote accordinly to support that, but alot is also due to fact that I I feel like I had information “straight from the horses mouth” to be better guided to pick what actually fits that philosophy. I could see candidate statements and responses to questionaires in their own words (if they bothered to provide them - and if not, that was also telling…) I could also get information from both sides of an argument as well as investigate the sources of the arguments origination or information. All of this from my bedroom, plus pictures and video and popular (and maybe not so popular) commentary. All in all, I think I felt so good because I could cast my ballot with a clear conscience, and confidence that I was not being misled or duped by politic, and that whatever the outcome, I had taken some action to put things in the way I saw as right. I believe that is precisely what the system was designed to accomplish.
I think much of the energy behind the Obama campaign is fueled just as much by this feeling, if not more so than the man. The man himself may have just been lucky enough to come around when the time was ripe, and whether by destiny or design, he has harnessed that energy into something truly palpable. I heard the same kind of sound in the background of recorded historical speeches from JFK and Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream…”; he very air seemed alive at his acceptance speech. Mom said it felt like “when the Lakers won” but since I’m not a huge fan of basketball, the nearest thing I can remember having experienced personally was the Dodgers World Series Game after Casey came to bat and even after he rounded home plate the crowd didn’t move. (Actually, now that I think about it, the “Victory” Tour was like that, too, back when Michael was the KING of Pop, but I lacked the sophistication to understand the experience in the same context. Thanks again for those tickets, btw - it was truly great… ) You know, there’s been some pretty amazing shit I’ve gotten to see in this little lifetime of mine… If Armageddon really does come in 2012 as predicted (again) I don’t think I’ll feel to cheated.
I also saw something else a little clearer in the process as well today. A couple weeks ago, I was rousted from my sleep to anwer the doorbell, and was quite put out to discover that it was someone canvassing the neighborhood to gain support for Prop 8. Given that one of my DEAREST friends, who is a representative example of a most excellent person on the whole (edited to protect the innocent:)) would be directly affected by this (and beside the fact that exceptional pause should be taken before voting “yes” on ANY proposition that begins with the words “ELIMINATES RIGHT…”) I was perhaps a little curt when I said “Oh, Goodbye!” and shut the door before he was able to finish his sentence. I considered him lucky that I did not tell him to remove the stick from his nether regions, and pondered how anyone could actually spend a day putting energy into worrying about “the gays” and their personal life enough to try to convince OTHER people to worry about it too. I realize now that if I were truly going to be a proactive thinker, I ought to have heard him out … and then shared my views about why HE ought to vote “No” instead. Then at least my getting out of bed would have been worth the effort, and I might have made a difference without even having to hoof it around the neighborhood. Oh well. Live and learn. (The hard way, at times… it looks like prop 8 is actually a go… Oh poop.)
I am impressed with Obama’s realism today as well. I have been a little concerned that Americans are given to hero worship, and I worry that the fact that he is, after all, still just a man, and maybe not the Champion of Justice and The American Way (insert theme music here) that some make him out to be (and some hope he really is). It was more than moving to see the collection of demographic that turned out for Obama. One of the commentators at NBC spoke of it being a “real representation of the face of America” in its diversity, unlike past representative slices of the pie which only reflected a portion of our society. It had a real “whole” feeling. For whatever its worth, he is definitely inspiring and intelligent, and seems sensible enough, but even more impressive than the powerful air of “together” that crackled like static electricity all througout the crowd, was its subsistence; the unquelled spirit that showed not a sign of diminishing even 15 minutes after he finished speaking and NBC finally cut away anyhow.
Tonight I witnessed something – well, okay, I’ll go ahead and say it like everyone else has today – truly historic. The fact that he is the first (insert politically correct term for “not white” here) Pres. is huge in all kinds of ways, but the real weight of it to me is that I wondered at the start of all this if I would see something like that in my lifetime. It restores my faith in people that I have, and it that part of it that I think is more significant to our future. He speaks in such a manner that I couldn’t help but feel it. His words, even his whole voice, resonate with hope and possibility, and he has sparked a passionate response from a country that had fallen into cynicism and apathy. If he can keep that alive while we roll up our sleeves and set to task, maybe that is all the hero we need…