Heather Keith Freeman (jnanacandra) wrote,
Heather Keith Freeman

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Brand New Day

Obama - President-elect Obama - is not the Messiah. As so many others have said, he's just a man ("he's just this guy, you know?"). And yet I have more hope for my country this morning than I have had in a long time - perhaps ever.

Because Obama has been elected President, I have hope that the Supreme Court will not be constantly a hairsbreadth away from overturning Roe v. Wade.

Because Obama has been elected President, we have demonstrated how far we have come in combating racism, and how far we have yet to go.

Because Obama has been elected President, I have hope that I will be able to follow national news without having to constantly fight down nausea at the war-glorifying, fear-mongering diatribes of the neocons.

Because Obama has been elected President, I dare to believe that individual people donating $5 or $10 at a time can make a difference. Yes we can and yes we did.

Because Obama has been elected President, I believe in my country again. And I am proud of its people, rather than afraid of them.

Yes, afraid. Under Bush, and under the potential McCain administration, the reigning narrative of the Right said that I was a second-class citizen. They have declared my religion, my physical autonomy, my way of living and loving, to be immoral and disgusting. I was afraid that, should I have a life-threatening pregnancy, they would deny me the right to choose a procedure that would save my life. I was afraid that under a continued slide to the right, they would eventually come take my child away because my husband and I are not monogamous, or not Christian, or occasionally swim at a clothing-optional pool.

So yes, I voted for Kerry in 2004 out of fear, fear of what would (and did) continue to happen under Bush. (In 2000 I voted Libertarian, but breathed a huge sigh of relief when my state went blue anyway.)

But in 2008 I voted for Obama out of hope. Because not only was he not a neocon, he believes in all of America, and in its ability to come together and work together. He not only supports people with disabilities, he demonstrated that support by captioning the videos on his website (a small but significant thing to this deaf person) and by writing a comprehensive and progressive disability rights plan. Because while he may believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, he has made it clear that that is a personal belief that should not be forced on all of us. Because he is willing to keep an open mind. Because by his very existence he embodies the American dream - a person of mixed race, raised by a single mother and her parents, who has lived in other countries, who worked his way to where he is and is risking his life to be who he is and where he is. He is not just another old white guy. He is another face of America, one that has been hidden for far too long. The presidency has power, but even more he is a symbol, a public face of the country. And now that public face will be a multi-racial, intelligent, eductated, articulate, and charismatic person who stands a chance of getting back the respect of the world. No more "nucular", no more cowboy diplomacy.

Another thing worthy of especial note - Obama admits that he can be wrong. That alone puts him miles above the bull-headed, win-at-all-costs, question-me-and-you're-a-terrorist-sympathizer neocon mentality that has gotten us mired in unwinnable wars and made most of the world hate our guts.

One thing to remember - though it was an electoral landslide, the popular vote was still very close. The pendulum will swing again, whether Obama follows through on his promises or not. This country is centrist, but it is the progressives who pull that center forward, even as it is the conservatives who hold us back from plunging over an over-idealistic cliff.

I am sickened by the probable passing of CA's Prop 8, as well as the banning of gay marriage in FL and AZ and the denial of gay adoption rights in AR - but on the other side of the coin, abortion limits and bans in SD, CA, and CO failed, medical marijuana and stem cell research are now legal in MI, and physician-assisted suicide is now legal in WA. The pendulum swings. Progress will be made, so long as we continue to fight, continue to stretch people's brains by exposing them to new ideas, continue to, just by living a different life, make that difference more acceptable.

If there's one thing this election has shown, it's that we can make a difference. I don't think I really believed that before last night.
Tags: politics, sociology

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