Thursday, November 06, 2008

What it means to me.

The first time I voted, a couple of months after I turned 18 and had just moved to New York for college, nearly everyone I voted for lost. Cuomo got knocked out by Pataki, W became governor of Texas, Newt Gingrich became speaker of the house, the "Republican Revolution" kicked into high gear.

The one candidate that I voted for that won - the city comptroller - was hardly a comfort!

"I'm so depressed," I told my dad the day after the election.

"So am I," he said.

Since then I have voted in every election - including the primaries.

I've been a political kid since birth. Having read lots of books on various civil rights movements in this country, I have never understood why anyone sits on their ass when people have died for this right.

If you don't vote, I have always told people, you shouldn't complain about what you get.

I was thrilled that Clinton won in 1996, when we had the specter of Pat Buchanan winning the New Hampshire primary, of Bob Dole taking money from cigarette companies and minimizing the dangers of smoking by saying, "Some people think milk is bad for you." (Yes, the dairy farmers *loved* that one.)

We were young then - we thought Rush Limbaugh and Newt were as bad as it would get.

This was before Clinton became corporate Clinton, before two presidential elections were stolen, before the gutting of the Constitution and eight years of international embarrassment.

"You can literally make yourself crazy, thinking about it too much," a friend commented.

The day before the election, the same friend, who describes herself as a "radical feminist Christian," said, "No matter what we get tomorrow, it'll be better than what we have now."

She paused.

"Isn't that sad?"

I knew intellectually that Barack Obama would win; all of the data pointed to the fact that Americans always blame the sitting president for the economy. This fallout, clearly, is the result of the "me first" attitude of deregulation.

We're losing two wars.

We're losing our jobs, our homes.

Sarah Palin drove the final nails in the coffin. (Yes, my dear, Africa is a continent.)

People have been, in short, fed up.

But some part of me, deep down, worried that another election would be stolen. Or hidden racism would take over the polls.

I was prepared to be thrilled at an Obama win.

I was unprepared for the "I have to pinch myself" elation.

As my husband and I sat perched on the edges of our armchairs in the living room, listening to Obama's speech, tears streamed down my face.

Exclamations followed:

"He's a mixed race person like me!"
"He mentioned Native Americans!"
"He mentioned gay people!"
"He mentioned disabled people!"

My whole life I have had other people try to tell me who I am.

Not white enough.

Not "Indian" (Indians are from India, thank you, I am Apache) enough.

Not a "real" minority.

I have had people make nasty racial comments not knowing that I was what used to be referred to as a "mixed breed," "half-breed."

"Oh, sorry, I didn't know," they've said when I have indignantly pointed it out.

Does that make you change your mind?

Less than forty years ago, a segregationist bastard took 25 percent of the popular vote for president, and today, we have a progressive, a reformer (I hope), a person who is unafraid to say that he will appoint judges who sympathize with people who have disabilities.

Palin mocked that one, too, despite the fact that she has a baby with a disability.

Since when did it become unpopular to sympathize with the downtrodden?

I think Reagan took care of that.

This is not the first time I have picked a winner, but it is the first time I have been proud of my president.

5 comments:

pheromone girl said...

We are a wealthy nation - now, finally, that wealth should be used to right some wrongs and make it a better world for everyone. Especially the small and the weak. Go RK!

Mike D said...

Now that's a speech!

Green tea said...

Nothing left to say..
I am still a little frazzled..

Though I am thrilled, yet here in Minnesota some of our voters sent back a couple crack pots to Congress.

Think some good thoughts that maybe we can at least send Al Franken to Washington.
The recount begins on the 19th and then we won't have a result till late December..

Darth Weasel said...

"If you don't vote, I have always told people, you shouldn't complain about what you get."

EXACTLY. Though not one candidate I voted for won...actually, I can't remember the last person who I voted for that won...the fact that I voted means I feel justified in continuing to complain about the government.

And weirdly, though I am very much an anti-Franken person, I hope he does win. He is more like the Jesse Ventura type person...the "real" people as opposed to career politicians. Those are normally the type of people I vote for. People who won't win but are not part of the major partys, people I actually think somewhat represent ME, not the Destructocrats or Republicants.

*sigh* when will we vote for GOOD candidates rather than "lesser of two evils"...though in this case, though I fear the long-lasting devastation the Obama "New new deal" propositions will be, I cannot see any way it will not be a huge step forward racially speaking. The day we talk about "the candidates" as opposed to "the first female candidate with a real chance to win" or the first "Native American candidate with a real chance to win" (though Nighthorse in Colorado might have had a shot if people had pulled their heads out earlier) and can merely talk about the candidates...that will be an even better day.

Green tea said...

I have to reply to Darth,
Al Franken will make a great Senator if he pulls out the recount.
He is nothing like Jessie who used the office just to enhance his public image so he could make big bucks..greed was his middle name.
If he had sought re-election he would have been soundly defeated.
Al would have won this race if Jessie's campaign manager Dean Barkley hadn't been a spoiler.
It isn't over yet..and if
Naughty Norm wins..it will be sad day in Minnesota..