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hope change history

some thoughts about this historic night

Tonight, I witnessed something that brought tears to my eyes. The election of Barak Obama to the office of President of the United States of America. I’ve always been a political cynic – someone interested in politics, strongly opinionated, but ultimately disbelieving that politicians can really change anything. And largely convinced that the only change politicians can bring is for the worse. But this moment changes everything.

For the past eight years, I have often despaired at what was happening to us. How obvious it was that our President was acting out an agenda that did not have the best interests of the American people at heart. How frightening it was that we, as a nation, failed to curb these policies. How disturbing to see a President so convinced at his absolute rightness, so unthinking and lacking in contemplation, so willing to put other people’s lives at risk to further the agenda, and line the pockets, of his cronies. So filled with hubris that he took actions that even his father knew to be foolish and destructive.

I watched as his first response to the terror attacks was not to unite us as a nation, but to invite us to go out and buy more and bigger cars, and thus to make our ties to the very people who hate us even more difficult to unravel. To increase the degradation of our planet, with no sense of the consequences. My shock and dismay grew as he led us into a war on false pretenses, against a nation that did not attack us – that didn’t even have the ability to attack us. And then to pile lies upon lies as all the original lies fell apart. All while the so-called liberal media swallowed all of it, hook, line, and stinker.

I know I was not alone in my worry and despair, but I often felt it.

As an armchair quarterback, I’ve studied the neoconservative movement. Watched documentaries. Listened to Rush. Watched Fox. And it seemed to me that their core intention from the very start was to frighten Americans into submission. To build up enemies specifically so there would be a reason to tear them down again. Whether the rationale was financial or ideological was irrelevant. The purpose was to rally the American public around the idea of a boogeyman so that people would believe in the idea of America. It is at heart a self-destructive ideology that, in order to be successful, requires fear, hate, and mistrust. This was the agenda of our President and his advisors and, perhaps, his controllers.

A self-destructive ideology will inevitably lead to self-destruction. This became clear in the past few months as our nation was bankrupted. I wonder if we hadn’t already mortgaged ourselves to the Chinese to finance a false war, whether this financial crisis would have been half as bad as it ultimately will prove to be. The only good to come from this final, pathetic consequence of eight years of malignant mismanagement, is that people finally opened their eyes.

And this is where we find ourselves tonight. With the first black President in our nation’s history. The leader of the free world, a man of color, like most of the world’s population. And while his race should not be the most important part of the story, it is still deeply important. Today, we have affirmed that our nation truly believes its most important credo – that all men are created equal. President Obama will soon occupy a house that was built by slaves. Consider that for just a moment. And we have transformed in a single day an eroded vision of America across the globe.

Tonight we are a liberal nation. It’s good to be liberal. It was the liberals of their day who fought and won against the crown to found our nation. And broke with decades of hallowed tradition to abolish slavery. And helped women achieve the right to vote. And paved the way for President Barack Obama. The course of our nation’s history is a slow and sometimes painful movement towards greater openness, acceptance, and inclusion. Tonight we take back the negative connotations of liberalism foisted upon us by a frightened right wing, and own it as the force of progress in our nation, and our world.

Will Barack Obama be a great, or even a good President? I don’t know. I am certain he’ll make mistakes. And I won’t always agree with him. But I am proud to have voted for him, for so many reasons:

Because he is intelligent, thoughtful, well-spoken, and curious about the world. Because he listens to the advice of others, and makes informed decisions. Because he reads, for real, and knows the names of newspapers.

Because he is a Constitutional scholar who will respect and uphold our founding document, and stop the relentless dismantling of it under this sham of an administration.

Because he stands on the right side of environmental issues. Because he believes in science. And the rights of those he doesn’t even agree with.

Because he is not afraid to confront those who wish to tear him down. But also not afraid to compromise when it’s the right thing to do.

Because he seems to have a genuine love and affection for his wife and family. It’s obvious in how they look at each other and interact with each other. Compare that to his former opponent, and his soon to be predecessor.

Because he’ll adopt a shelter dog for his daughters.

Because he was right on Iraq before pretty much anyone else. He’ll get us out of Iraq. And he won’t get us into a war for no reason other than to fight the boogeyman and fill the pockets of war profiteering companies.

Because he inspires people not just to hope, but to do. For the first time in my life, this past weekend I volunteered my time and energy to a political campaign by making a few phone calls. And I saw the enthusiasm of the dozens of other volunteers, of every age, income, and ethnicity. I heard the excitement of people on the other end of the phone, who were rallying their friends and family to vote, many for the first time. He has a leadership quality that brings out the best in people. When so many others just bring out the worst, the smallest, the pettiest.

Because he will restore our deserved respect in the world. And will support and defend Israel, but not unquestioningly.

Because he wants to provide healthcare for everyone in the world’s richest nation.

Because he’s not a man who acts out of anger, or revenge. His even keel will serve us well in the years to come.

Because he will work in an intelligent, careful fashion to find a solution to this financial crisis that won’t just favor those who are already wealthy. Because he knows that trickle-down economics leaves those at the bottom begging for the last drop.

Maybe I’m na├»ve, or too hopeful. Maybe four years from now, I’ll wish I’d never written these words. But tonight, I feel something deeper than just happiness. I feel privileged to be witness to, to be part of, one of the greatest moments in our nation’s history.

And I’m proud once again, after so many years, to be an American.