I’m not one of these kids who has a total crush on Obama, but there’s no denying how historically fantastic the result of the election is—fantastic in the neutral sense of the word, like unbelievable and incredible.
I seriously didn’t believe it was going to happen. I thought, “There’s no way America will elect a young president/a black president/an intelligent president/a liberal president.” I’m just amazed, and that’s why I’m happy: because I don’t have words to articulate what a leap forward it is for the American dream. That Horatio Alger bullshit is, well, bullshit. The American dream is that someone with dark skin and the name “Barack Hussein Obama” is (knock wood) going to be sworn in two and a half months from now as the 44th president of the United States of America, and that his parents and grandparents of working-class and immigrant backgrounds worked their asses off to raise this guy who went from very humble beginnings to a great education and one of the fastest-moving political careers in American history. That’s why I believe in America.
I know how disillusioned I’m going to be if a year from now nothing changes, but I think that even the fact that we as a country got this far means that something is stirring. In the 1960s folks thought something was happening, something was going down. And maybe it was, maybe people were sitting in fields and expanding their consciousnesses. But what did that translate into, back in the real world? Kennedy. LBJ. Richard Nixon. Although the Civil Rights Act was passed and the Vietnam War ended, it didn’t change the fact of the Cold War, or the fact that America’s star was just starting to wane. It didn’t change the fact that Martin Luther King was assassinated or that people laughed at instead of listened to the young people who marched for peace and freedom on their college campuses.
But 40 years after the Summer of Love and Woodstock, a black man—a young educated liberal black man—was elected president. And fucking hell, that means something. Since I’ve been old enough to know what’s going on in the world, George W. Bush has been president. The first political events I remember being emotionally involved in were Bush’s victory, 9/11, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. As I’ve grown up, I’ve witnessed failure after failure of the Bush administration, and I grew to voting age feeling like this country doesn’t represent me or what I believe in.
Now, no one’s perfect, by any means. Obama has opinions that I disagree with. But fuck it, he’s not George Bush. And yes, for the first time in my life, and the first time that I can think of in recent history, the grassroots made a difference on the largest scale. For the first time in my life I live in a country that adequately represents who I am and what I value. And for one of the very few times thus far in my short life, I am proud to be an American.