"In the unlikely story of America, there has never been anything false about hope."
I'm not really sure I have words for this. Four years ago I was in tears, partly out of drunken melodrama, but mostly out of the sensation that my values, my beliefs, were so far out of whack with those of the rest of America. I cried out of mourning, cried for the loss of my place in this society. For that is what I lost - I lost the sensation that I belong here. I lost the sensation that my beliefs were shared by my fellow Americans. Luckily, my beliefs are mostly shared by my family. Their perspective helped, and continues to help when people seem to want to pat me on the head and imply that I will outgrow these childish notions of 'fairness' and 'justice.'
There were tears tonight, tonight spent at MLK's tomb, and Manuel's Tavern (practically live-blogged by Shelby), but mostly they were tears of wonder and disbelief. Tears shared by the middle-aged white woman standing in front of me, tears that streamed down Reverend Jesse Jackson's face on tv. Tears spent watching Yes We Can over and over...I know I was in high school during the end of President Clinton's term. I know by that point I was well aware of events and politics. And yet...and yet. I have no memory of ever looking up at a tv and thinking, that's my President, with the sense of pride and eagerness for the work to be done that I had tonight. President-elect Barack Obama finally instilled in me the sensation that I experience during quiet, late night visits to the Lincoln Memorial - what can I say? I'm a sucker for my country. And I'm a sucker for lofty ideals. And I have been waiting for a leader to come along who had the potential to live up to those ideals.
I love this country. You have to love something for it to break your heart the way my country has broken mine over the past eight years. Molly Brodsky has a wonderful quote, "You may not call me naive. If you must label me, you may call me 'not cynical'." If only that were still true of me. The past eight years have made me so cynical - I have been comforting myself with the refrain that we elect the leaders we deserve. Thank goodness we still deserve a leader like Senator Obama. May he rise to the occasion.