We Did It!

Steph, Barack and Al

Steph, Barack and Al

We did it. It actually happened. To be fair, when I say we did it, I’m using the “we” loosely, since the extent of my political involvement was to attempt to make my friends laugh by Photoshopping myself into a picture with Barack Obama and Al Sharpton (above).  I didn’t do any campaigning, attend any rallies or wave any signs at people in cars. I didn’t buy a t-shirt. To tell the truth, I barely watched a debate.

But I did vote. And I did it with a sense that it was absolutely imperative that I vote and that it was possibly the most important vote I would ever cast. I did it even though I feared the other side would “steal the election” again.

I still have a bad taste in my mouth about the 2000 election with all the Kathryn Harris-shady recount-dangling chad shenanigans that went on in my home state of Florida. I was not alone in subscribing to the conspiracy theory that George Bush didn’t really win that election. And then the war that made us look like bullies to the rest of the world started and they lied to us about that, too. Our reputation is so bad internationally that people have told me that when they traveled abroad they claimed to be Canadian instead of American. How terrible to disagree with the actions of your country so much that you would deny your own nationality. But I couldn’t blame them. I felt ashamed of the face the USA was presenting to the world, too.

And then we were sentenced to four more years of the same and this Republican administration, while claiming to be financial “conservatives”, recklessly sent the economy down the crapper, taking my own job down the drain with it. And to top it off, we’re all going to be asked to bail out the very institutions that screwed us over in the first place. Awesome. Needless to say, my confidence in our country’s ability to “do the right thing” had been shaken to the core.

Until last night. People turned out in record numbers and they voted for change. People like me put aside their pessimism and apathy and believed that their vote could make a difference this time. I had heard talk that when it came down to it, some people in middle America just wouldn’t be able to get past their ingrained prejudices and vote for a black man. But they did. And it was a landslide! Yay for us!

I felt so proud of my country last night for doing what we did. I had tears in my eyes watching Barack Obama give his acceptance speech. It’s not that I feel he is some kind of deity, he’s just a man. But the majority of people in our country voted for him. I feel lucky to have had the chance to take part in such a historical election.

I’m happy for my four-year old daughter that she is going to come of age in a country that is becoming more open-minded by the day. I hope that when she is older, she will wonder why it was such a big deal to have a black president in the first place. Just like I find it hard to believe that when my parents were growing up there were segregated schools and even separate water fountains. At the risk of sounding trite, I have to say that I think her generation might actually get the chance to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of seeing people for who they are instead of for their skin color.

It is great to feel so proud of my country. Like they say, sometimes you don’t realize how much you appreciate something until you’ve lost it. Today I feel like I’ve got it back and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

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