My political involvement has always been spotty, but this presidential election has me by the back of the neck.
After the 2004 DNC, which I don’t remember watching, people around me kept mentioning the senator from Illinois who gave the keynote address. I finally watched the speech on line several weeks later. I was impressed with his nuance and level-headed smarts. I said to A, It’s a shame that this country would never elect him president.
And now we might. The possibility of it has had me antsy and weepy for weeks now.
For me—pretty far left in a pretty far left city—the details of what each candidate would do in office have made my voting decision a no-brainer.
But beyond that, Barack Obama knows how to tell us the story of ourselves so that our struggles make sense and the solutions seem clear. Not easy—nothing will be, I’m afraid—but clear in the sense of knowing who we are and where we’re going. That kind of leadership—the ability to explain, connect, and inspire—is a tonic that we need now as much as we ever have.
And Obama delivers it in a way that cuts through my thick, thick cynicism about everything and everyone in a position of political power.
Last Wednesday evening, Ingrid and A and I hustled down to the basement after dinner to watch the Obamamercial. At the end, the live rally, where he ended his speech, shouting to be heard over the crowd, We will change this country and the world, A and I were both in tears.
Oh shit, I said, after I recovered. I don’t think I’m jaded anymore.
It’s the possibility of losing that that makes me feel like my whole heart is wrapped around this election.
It’s why I sometimes can barely breathe when I check 538 for the fourth time in a day, and it’s a big part of why I’ve made myself swallow my shyness and pick up the phone to make campaign calls. The possibility of an Obama presidency doesn’t just mean we on the left might “get our way” for a change. For me it also means the privilege of having a brilliant leader. And it means the pride of knowing that not just a few lefty intellectuals but a serious majority of my fellow citizens can recognize that kind of brilliance.