This morning when I sat down to eat my breakfast I had to wake up the computer and refresh CNN and the New York Times, and FiveThirtyEight.com, just to make sure that what we experienced last night wasn’t a dream, that it wasn’t somehow a mistake that had been corrected overnight.
It’s not a mistake. And it wasn’t only a dream. It is a dream come true. America has a new President-Elect and a new direction, a direction toward hope, and change, and inclusion.
Eight years ago I was among those who were shocked, and then dismayed, and finally angered by the results of the election. Four years ago I was resigned and apathetic, it seemed that American’s wanted the rude, divisive, exclusionary vision that George W. Bush and the Republican party presented. For the past 20 months I have held deep inside myself a tiny lit candle called hope. For the past two months I have lived and breathed the polls and endorsements, the debates and speeches, and tried not to let my candle be blown out.
Yesterday morning I was proud and excited to cast my ballot. I felt like I was truly participating in something momentous. I believed that Senator Barack Obama would win the day, and that America would wake up today at the start of a new era. I hoped that it would be so.
I have always been proud to be an American, and I consider myself to be patriotic. However, I have been ashamed of my country’s policies and actions at home and abroad for several years now. I couldn’t, and still don’t, understand the need to substitute belligerence for intelligence, to replace compassion with disdain, to replace open democracy with secrecy, jingoism, fear, and anger. I was fearful that the character assassinations would stick, that the “power of nightmares” approach that had brought the Republicans to power would keep them there another four years.
That we have a new President-Elect this morning, who is the very antithesis of past eight years of abuse, gluttony, and venality, lifts my heart and gives me hope. The tiny candle I’ve been carrying for two years is now part of a large flame.
I am proud to have voted for Barack Obama, and prouder still that he will be the 44th President of the United States of America.