Four plus years ago I turned on my television one night and watched an almost complete unknown guy give a speech about America. It was about how America is bigger than the narrow-minded bigots had construed it. It was big enough for those who profoundly and passionately disagree to live together in respect and harmony, even those narrow minded bigots. But then, I heard him say what I’d yearned for decades for someone to say — that my beliefs and ideas, my faith and family WERE American, despite what the other guys kept trying to tell me. I wept, but my heart soared with hope. More importantly, I knew in that way that sometimes you just know, I knew I was looking at the first African-American president – and the first president in my lifetime who spoke both to me and for me more fully than any other. When Spousal Unit got home later that night, I told him that I had seen the future, and that it was freaking beautiful.
He pretty much thought I was crazy. Until he heard that the guy was from his hometown, his neighborhood even. He started to do some research and reading, and then a giant mancrush was born, and blossomed. Which he then proceeded to pass on to our daughter, who emphatically declares “Mmmmambaaa!” every time she sees Spousal Unit’s Obama ’08 coffee mug. Poor kid, though, doesn’t actually know WHO he is — she can’t identify his picture when shown — but she knows the image of his campaign slogan and his name is one of only 5 words that she says, rather than signs.
I don’t want to prematurely gloat or curse anything by counting some chickens before they hatch, I just wanted to say that I’m feeling hopeful, energized, and for the first time in my adult life, proud of my country.
As a historian I’m all too aware that people like Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone and Frederick Douglass and Charles Redmond and Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and thousands and thousands of less well-known others across centuries all fought passionately so that this country could be run by everybody, not just wealthy white men. Today is our chance to make them proud. So if you haven’t voted yet, get out there today and do so. Take your babies, your neighbors, you loved ones, your pets, and get thee to the polls (oh, and depending on where you live you might want to take a snack, some reading material and a folding chair!).
With great hope —