Presidency 2008

Maybe it makes me as racist as anyone, but I didn’t think America was ready to elect a member of a minority group to that office. I should have known, Americans have chosen a minority candidate in the past. Kennedy was elected even though he was Catholic, for example. That used to be a big deal to voters.

I’ve just been feeling so completely disempowered. As an earlier post shows, I had come to the opinion that it doesn’t matter at all what the people think, because rich and powerful old school cronies will buy the election. I might as well stay home and eat popcorn.

Maybe it’s because I completely misunderstood the appeal of President G W Bush. I just couldn’t imagine that any person who thought it through wisely could really believe he’d be the best man for the job. After the first four years, I had full confidence that he would lose based purely on past performance, and I was ASTONISHED to see his second election. I don’t know who my fellow Americans are, I guess. I certainly don’t understand what their priorities are.

So… it was with bewilderment that I heard McCain’s concession speech.

(by the by, the man garnered more of my respect during that beautiful speech than during any other election action he had taken. His status as a veteran and POW has me feeling deep respect and gratitude, but that concession speech made me actually connect to him as a man who could lead others.)

I felt hope last night. It was a crazy feeling – to have an election give me hope.

Don’t misunderstand me… I’m as frighteningly bitter and disillusioned about my country’s government as ever. I don’t believe that this election heralds the kind of change that everyone’s talking about.

But something earth-shatteringly important did change. A black family in the White House. Oh my god. Maybe there is hope for peace in the world after all.

I can just hear my father’s panicked cries already: the new President is a Marxist, his wife hates white people, there will be laws about the superiority of people of color, our national language will change to Spanish, we’ll open our borders and invite everyone else in the world to live here free of charge… while he foots the bill and lives in perpetual fear of losing the right to own his hunting rifle. If we could only drill in Alaska, he says, if only we could get a crack at that liquid gold before the cheatin Russians and Japanese suck it all up from the other side of the oil field. Yup, my father is terrified of Obama – or, more accurately, of what Obama represents to him – and I am suspicious that many other Republicans are. But maybe after a few years, he’ll find out that his fears of the man do not come to pass, and maybe he’ll relax. Or then again, maybe he’ll spin it however he needs to spin it to keep the world the same in his own perceptions.

In any case, despite my bitterness about my lack of power against the government machine, I do have great faith that change is in the air. How many kids will grow up now without noticing a correlation between membership in a minority group and politics? I’m already poisoned in my mind, because I can’t help but see differences. But putting a wide variety of Americans into political roles at the very highest levels will subtly destroy our country’s white hegemony. When a new generation no longer goes through the motions that keep people in their places; then people can move about with fewer restrictions. In other words, as we are all fully aware of, when we don’t notice minority status, we will be able to see the person.

I feel as though I am unwell inside, that I can’t help but look at Obama and feel particular joy because my President is a black man. I’m excited for the other victories, such as being a little more reassured that Roe v. Wade will remain in effect for a couple more years, or that we won’t drill in Alaska for a couple more years. I wish I didn’t think of him as my first black President.

But like I said, I am already poisoned by society. My great hope is that the legacy of the United States of America can build off this momentous occasion toward a future woman who sits in her living room blogging about a President and doesn’t consider the color of her skin to be a relevant point.

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