I voted today for Barack Obama, with a sense of satisfaction unlike any I can recall for decades. I know, I know. It's politics, and one should never get starry-eyed about that shadowy world where more often than not promises made are promises broken. Remember our current president's promises to eschew nation-building, to be a uniter, to leave no child behind, to offer a compassionate conservatism, etc. ? But I never believed those promises from the outset, and I was not surprised when exactly the opposite was delivered by The Decider and his fascist-inclined ideologues.
These past seven years have cast a pall of cynicism over me. When three years ago the nation elected The Decider for a second term (having not won the popular vote the first election) I was alternately incredulous, in denial, angry--all the traditional stages of grief but one: acceptance. I posted a sign of mourning on my office door that day and have as best I knew how endured the hijacking of our nation, reversing so much of what I consider The American Dream. The dismantling of the middle class, the waging of preemptive war, the civil liberties lost to the Patriot Act, the acceptance of torture, the rollback of environmental gains...and that's just the short list. History, I'm convinced, will have a MUCH longer critique of the Bush-whacked years, including unimaginable corruption in the erstwhile "moral" party.
Today I cast a vote to hope once again. Maybe our system can work once again; maybe we can rise beyond red state/blue state divisiveness; maybe we can regain our sense of decency and direction in a manner worthy of world respect. My thoughts today are with Barack Obama, who describes his emotions while walking on the Washington Mall in the quiet of the evening:
"And in that place I think about America and those who built it. This nation's founders, who somehow rose above petty ambitions and narrow calculations to imagine a nation unfurling across a continent. And those like Lincoln and King, who ultimately laid down their lives in the service of perfecting an imperfect union. And all the faceless, nameless men and women, slaves and soldiers and tailors and butchers, constructing lives for themselves and their children and grandchildren, brick by brick, rail by rail, calloused hand by calloused hand, to fill in the landscape of our collective dreams. It is that process I wish to be part of. My heart is filled with love of this country." (The Audacity of Hope, pp. 361-2)