2008-11-05 10:20 in /politics/US
It’s been a year and a half since my last political post. I’m a little surprised that it’s been quite that long, but not entirely shocked. I spent nearly all of this election cycle somewhat withdrawn from the whole thing; feeling disenfranchised from years of being told that my dissent was unpatriotic, and being disgusted by the amount of ugly politics-as-usual that was going on. I wasn’t spellbound by Obama like so many of my friends and neighbors, but slowly gained respect for his thoughfulness, general positivity, sense of context, and willingness to confront real, serious issues that most politicians shirk from.
So, it wasn’t until yesterday that I really started to feel a nervous excitement that maybe we really would see a change this year. By 5PM, I was compulsively reloading web pages, and when the counts hit 200 electoral votes with only the east coast reporting I got that “OMG it’s really happening” feeling. Around 7, I headed down to the Green Dragon with a friend to watch on the TV there. I think I started vibrating at some point shortly before they called it.
The whole room was silent for Obama’s speech. I’m pretty sure most of us cried. I think over the last couple years I’d resigned myself to only being able to have an effect on my local community. His speech inspired me to again turn my efforts to a larger sphere. My community will still be my primary, day-to-day focus; but I’ll definitely be more engaged at the national level as well. What Obama said is true: this election doesn’t change anything by itself, it just gives us the opportunity to change. This is a difficult time for our country, and it’s going to take hard work by many people to solve these problems. But there’s a huge population of people like me that had all but given up and are now re-energized, and I think we can really make some improvements.
Closing thoughts... To Obama: live your rhetoric and remember that you now represent all Americans, not just your supporters. To McCain: you won back some of my respect with your concession speech; please let this be a return to your old, pre-election self. To supporters of both: be as gracious in victory and defeat as your candidates were last night. Talk and listen to people you don’t agree with, and realize that your goals are largely the same, even when your methods differ. Find the places where you can work together.