Yes We Can!
I was thinking earlier today about posting about how cool it is to live in a very small town. Stace and I headed out to vote around ten o’clock this morning. We walked in the Legion Hall and waited approximately 20 seconds in line before being handed our ballots. And this despite the fact that the little ladies at the polling place were saying our county was on track for record numbers of votes cast this year. They were all very excited about voter turn-out even though it was only ten a.m. when we were there.
Then I was at Wal-Mart later in the day and was reminded how very not-cool it is to live in a very small town… at least in our neck of the woods. A little girl around 9 or 10 years old was telling her Grandma about voting for Obama in class that morning and saying that she hoped her Grandma was going to vote for Obama, too. Grandma was only half listening and putting her off as she studied the birthday cards, but the little girl wasn’t going to let Grandma off the hook and kept pestering her about voting for Obama. The little girl had several good arguments for Obama but eventually Grandma said that Jesus wanted her to vote for McCain. The little girl said that Jesus liked Obama cause he “wanted to change the congress and make everybody happy” and McCain was “mean” and didn’t want everybody to be happy.
Finally Grandma was obviously exasperated and snapped out “I’m not voting for a black man.” When I heard that, my head snapped around just in time to see the little girl throw her hands up in the air, snort, and say, “Oh Gramm, Jesus doesn’t care if Obama’s black.”
I had to smile. Too bad Grandma’s voting and not the little girl. As humiliating as it is to live next door to people who actually think that way… I guess the little girl’s reaction provides hope for the future. That’s mostly what this election was about wasn’t it? Hope for a brighter future. That’s certainly what Stace and I felt was riding on this election. It felt like we were fighting not just for our immediate future but for all hope of the distant future. That’s why we’ve been so tense the last few days. It’s just so important.
Obama won. We won. Obama is the next President of America.
Watching Obama’s acceptance speech in Chicago got us both kinda choked up. It’s been so many years of feeling like we don’t belong to this America… so many years of knowing that we just aren’t welcome by the powers that be. Not only that they don’t care about us but that they would actually prefer it if we didn’t exist. Bush and the Hard Right were so exclusive and divisive that they created an America where many of us simply didn’t count. So many dark years. And looking at the crowd we also felt a great welling of gratitude toward all those who worked so hard and long… giving time and money to make this happen.
We watched the cameras pan over thousands of happy people waiting for Obama to speak. We were both struck by their faces. By their expressions. By the hope and excitement they were feeling. We were feeling the same thing. The feeling that this is the America we want to belong to. An America that wants us. Not just the white. Not just the straight. Not just the rich. All of us. We’re all part of an Obama America.
After eight long years of being bullied and excluded by the Right, and of being ashamed of the fact they were in power in the first place, it was a blissful moment to simply be proud to be an American again.