As I’ve already noted here and on many of the blogs that I frequent, I just didn’t feel right posting about Obama’s win in a direct way yesterday. I’ve been able to sort through the emotions, come down off the high (Mrs. Blue would probably say “what high?” but I’m a low-key guy and she’s always looking for a new fresh way to rib me a bit…), and I think I’m in a place now where I can, first, say:
Thank God we didn’t get McCain-Palin. Thank God that self-serving, egomaniacal, money-grubbing, spotlight-hounding, rabble-rousing, incendiary bitch from Alaska isn’t anywhere near the White House. Thank God we don’t have McCain, whose judgment has been too erratic lately for me to fully trust his capabilities are still there. Thank God we are finally free of GOP rule that in eight years has taken us from being fiscally in pretty good shape to bringing us just shy of economic destruction.
Thank God Barack Obama will be the next president, and I only pray that he and his family remain safe, that he remains in prayer and in contemplation to make wise choices, and that he puts in place the right people in the right spots to get our country back on track.
Those of you who are convinced that Obama is some sort of abortion-loving, terrorist-coddling, know-nothing, uppity so-and-so…well, you can all go suck eggs thank you very much.
Why do I like Obama? Why am I so happy, aside from the reasons noted above, that he is in office?
Well, the fact he’s black sure don’t hurt.
No, I didn’t vote for him because he’s black. I voted for him because he’s a talented and promising Democrat. But him being black fills me with a lot of positive feelings and a lot of hope. Yes, I’m white. I know this. My face in the mirror each morning is enough to blind even me. I don’t know how my wife can bear to see my pale self naked without wearing the same kind of goggles folks use to watch nuclear explosions.
But I have a black wife and a teenaged biracial son and a preschooler biracial daughter. My wife has grown up thinking she would probably never see a black man get to the White House. Son of Blue, though he can’t vote yet, has volunteered heavily to man phones for the Obama campaign, which has enregized him to become politically active early in life and has gottten him a nice recommendation from his supervisors as he goes forward in life. My daughter, who doesn’t know what’s going on (aside from the fact we didn’t like McCain because “he was grumpy and doesn’t like to share”) will now grow up in a world where she will already know that being black cannot stop you from reaching the highest office in this land.
This is a psychological and social milestone that cannot, or at least should not, be downplayed. The election of Barack Obama doesn’t erase the centuries of crap America has heaped on blacks and other minorities. But it’s a hell of a good step in the right direction. It suggests that all the work I’ve done to be open to learning about the culture in which my wife was raised…all the effort I’ve put in to trust that she knows racism when she sees it even when it isn’t obvious to me…all the time I’ve spent trying to let blacks with whom I communicate know that I am someone who wants to try to understand and wants to be an ally where I can…any time I’ve spent in this blog and others trying to address racial/class issues and bring people together in those rare cases I can…
…it shows that effort wasn’t wasted. Blacks alone didn’t elect Obama. A whole heaping hell of a lot of whites had to join in, or Obama would have been crushed. Racism is real. Racism exists. Racism will be a hard nut to crack for many generations yet. But it can be overcome. And that is clear now. If we want to, we can kill that motherfucker called racism like we killed polio. It may not be gone entirely (polio was never entirely wiped out either), but we can make it so beat-down that it won’t be able to hurt anyone much. If we really, really band together and make the attempt.
Now, I have a good friend who voted for Obama, but didn’t much feel the love for him. He was a Hillary Clinton fan. I don’t blame him. We like who we like. My friend, a political science professor (so we’ll call him PoliProf from here on out), has a strong wife and two little girls, too. When I say strong wife, I mean this is a woman who is not only independent, smart and competent but survived breast cancer and went on to do a one-woman comedy show about her experience with breast cancer. PoliProf wanted to see a woman in the White House because he wanted to honor the women in his life. I get that. And I hope it happens really freaking soon.
But, in my view, breaking the racial barrier is more important right now. America is stained by racism, I believe, far more than it is by sexism.
There are people alive today who are the children of slaves or former slaves. Not many, but they exist. My own father-in-law, who is in his late 50s, grew up in the era of Jim Crow and was a child of sharecroppers, who were really just slaves that you couldn’t whip or hobble. And there are a lot of people like him still alive. There are black folks today who once had to use separate drinking fountains and couldn’t vote because white people kept them from exercising that right. Those people have now seen the ultimate racial ceiling broken.
And it has been broken not just by a black man, but a black man who has a healthy, stable family. He has two wonderful girls and a wife he clearly loves. There is no sign thus far that this man has ever stepped out on his family or is tempted to. There is a love here that hasn’t been so clear in a president since Jimmy Carter and his family were in the spotlight. Even though I liked the Clinton years, that wasn’t a family full of love; Bill and Hillary had issues, and I was never entirely sure if they both gave Chelsea enough of themselves. I am proud to see a visibly strong, healthy, loving family headed for the White House.
This nation was built on the backs, blood and tears of slaves. And when slavery was abolished, the nation didn’t really try to repair the damage or give those former slaves a good shot at a bright future. They washed their hands of it. There have been many people who are black who have succeeded outside of sports and music, but their numbers are still smaller than they should be. This is the single most important political post in the country, and it has never been held by anyone who isn’t white. True, it’s never been held by a woman, either, but white women have fewer social restraints and burdens placed upon them than blacks. Hell, black women have a lot more opportunity and less crap to deal with than black men. Women still get crap, but they’re in a great many more positions of influence and power.
So, PoliProf, I’m not mad that you didn’t feel the love for Obama. I’m really not. And I don’t seek to diminish your disappointment over Hillary not making the ticket, because it is real and I understand its source. But for me, and for my family, and for my day to day, and for the lives of the black men and women on the blogs I visit, and for the non-black people who just want to see a brighter day in general, I rejoice.
Obama is no messiah. No savior. No miracle worker.
But it brings a tear to my eye to say I am proud, so proud, to call him my President.