I don’t usually use this blog as a soapbox, but due to various factors that may or may not be beyond my control, I feel compelled to write this today. I am not usually a very politically driven man, but after viewing “By the People: The Election of Barack Obama,” I find that my passion for my party, my president, and my country has been re-energized.
Our current president is a reason to be thankful, and here is why: The world now takes the U.S. seriously again. Whether you believe in his ability, his politics, or his character, I challenge you to deny the fact that he is a figure that the world as a whole respects. Obama may not be the godsend or the Christ-figure that some chalked him up to be during his campaign, but nevertheless he is a symbol of strength for America. We are a nation that has elected a man, whom fifty years ago could not vote, to be our president. We are a nation that has given hope to millions. We are a nation that is under the watchful eye of every other nation in the world, and we have elected a leader who has risen quickly from nothing, showing the true power, strength, and potential of our government.
I wish that our nation could get around the issue of race, I truly do. But there is no denying that the fact that our president is of African descent is a momentous thing and I feel I must address it. Our nation’s diversity is a thing of beauty. When I was in elementary school I was assigned to do a report on Colin Powell. I remember my mother told me as I was researching Mr. Powell (in our World Book Encyclopedia) that he had the potential to be our first African American president. Even as a young child, I found this prospect to be astonishing. I had had this strange fascination with Harriet Tubman a few years prior and I knew all about our nation’s history of slavery. I craved a black president. I finished my project on Colin Powell with enthusiasm and was overjoyed with the thought that there might be a black president in my lifetime. My twenty-four-year-old self is just as giddy inside, if not more. Our nation has come so far in just the years of my short lifetime.
While I mentioned before that I am not always up on current political events, whenever I catch an article or a news blurb about what Obama is doing, I feel our country is headed in the right direction. Just last night I watched a speech and open talk he gave in front of a few hundred Shaghai college students during his tour of Asia which has focused on peaceful relations between our countries, working together for a greener planet, the world climate control summit in Copenhagen and increased trade between our nations. The Norwegian Parliament declared Obama as the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Obama claimed it was a call to everyone to work for peace, and he was just setting an example. Obama is working on closing down Guantanamo Bay Prison which is an important step, and has introduced a clean energy bill which will create jobs and stimulate the U.S.’s economy, on top of its obvious benefits for the environment. I feel safe knowing that Obama is working toward making our nation, and the world, a better place to live.
Obama began his campaign with the slogan “Change We Can Believe In”. I think this early motto is accurate, but over the course of his months-long journey to the presidency, he stumbled upon a new slogan: “Yes We Can” (Say the words out loud to yourself. Say them again. Do you feel that?). These three words spoke to so many Americans and gave them hope for a better tomorrow. We are not alone in our hope for the future. People began to realize that by voting for a man who stood for such a unity of spirit and positive belief in our future, they were making history. And the joy of supporting such a man was infectious.
I had the unique experience of viewing the 2008 presidential election from Macao, a special administrative region of China, with a handful of liberal young American Fulbright scholarship winners and a classroom full of Chinese university students. I got to speak with a number of Chinese students in the weeks before and after the election and in my brief conversations I very quickly realized how much of a joke the U.S. had been under the Bush administration. Other nations of the world perceived us to be stupid because W. was well…what he was. At the very least he was a horrible orator, showing the world that we elected someone who appeared on TV to be an idiot, which in turn made us look like a nation of idiots (especially after his re-election in '04). But the Chinese students I spoke with were all excited about Obama and what he stood for, and that gave me renewed confidence in our nation.
Obama’s election speech was the clincher for me, but it was not just the words he spoke; It was how he presented it. While McCain’s election party was a small, exclusive event attended by mostly the wealthy elite, Obama had a large set-up at Chicago’s Grant Park that was open to all. He and his family wore red, signifying a peace with the Republican Party. An estimated 240,000 people attended the event. His speech focused on a united nation, a united world, and the prospect of a future without prejudice or immaturity, partisanship or pettiness.
I personally view this essay/blogpost on president Obama as a failure, as I struggle to find the words to really convey the satisfaction I feel in having this man as our president. All I can say at this point is that I love my country. I have never been able to say this before in my lifetime, and it is with great pride I say it now: I love my country. It is not a country founded on hatred, on vengeance, on selfishness. It is a country that should embrace all cultures, all people, all walks of life. And while I know that there will always be hatred, bias, and bigotry, I know that we as a nation have so much potential. We can rise above our differences and use our opposing points of view as strength, not weakness. We can absolutely live up to our full potential. We can move mountains. We can save the earth. We can reach perfection. Yes, we can.
Presidential Street Fight 2008