Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Yes We Did!

I wasn’t originally planning to write about the election. I know some people who receive this are not on my boat politically speaking and I’m not one to rub in victories, nor do I like to absorb the pain of defeat, but today is such an historic day that I can’t go without mentioning it’s effect on me as a young political voter in this country.

I was one month behind being able to vote in the ill-fated election of 2000 as my birthday is in December, and remember the paralyzing disappointment that accompanied that rather tenuous anti-victory of the Republican party. Two years and one world-changing event later, I was off to London to learn some of the most poignant lessons I will experience in my lifetime. First and foremost, for a girl who claimed to hate America, I learned how deep my love of my country went. Not only did I realize that I was an American and a Patriot, but that I was an ambassador of sorts. I fought against the hate and frustration that I found was exacted against America, assuring the Britons that were willing to hear me, that Bush was not a representation of all America, but a stolen election that would be remedied in the 2004 election. I realized that I loved what America stood for, but not what it had become. That I loved the foundations of this country as one of hope and opportunity, that my ancestors came to as they escaped the iron hand of European Fascism (Mussolini to be exact). I realized that I, as a stranger in a strange land, had to show people that all Americans weren’t the gun-toting, cowboy diplomacy supporting yee-haws that were populating the White House and recruiting their young men and women to fight a war whose very premise was being questioned. I spent a year fighting to show that half of America wasn’t in support of George W. Bush and his policies of non-diplomacy.

On my last day in London, after my friends spent the better part of an evening feeding me tequila shots, one of my dear friends said the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. He said that I had changed his opinion of Americans and I’ll never forget it as long as I live. Even now, as I write this, I am tearing up thinking of how much that little remark meant and continues to mean to me.

I came back from London in an election year. A year that I, as a first time voter and an idealistic 20 year old, maintained hope for this country. A country I had a new love for, one that I had not felt in my whole lifetime. I came back invigorated, ready to get behind a candidate who was promising a change from the cowboy diplomacy that had reigned for the past four years. And then George W. Bush won again. It was contested again, yes, but he was back in the White House for another four years, and I lost all hope, all youthful exuberance toward the dream of what America was supposed to be.

I found myself in my last year at UCSC, being the skeptic in classes full of idealism. In classes where kids were excited about protest and communism, I found myself being not just skeptical but in some cases downright hostile toward their exuberance. Were they not at the election? Did they not see that this country was going down fast? That the great experiment of America had been a complete and abject failure?

As much as I hate to admit this, the last four years of my life have been clouded by an excruciating disappointment in the state of this country. Even as the primary elections shaped up, even as Barack Obama gave his amazing speech at the DNC, even as numbers started coming in in preliminary polls, I doubted. I felt a piece of my heart, my hope that had slipped away in 2000 and felt like was gone for good in 2004, was restored. Tonight, I quickly gained what I thought was lost forever. I was fully prepared to move out of this country if I felt that my ideals and beliefs were disconnected with the majority of the people here. Not only did this country prove my doubt wrong and unfounded today, it restored the hope I never thought I’d see again.

I can’t say that I’ll never doubt again. I can’t say that my hopes will never be dashed. Nor do I think that President-Elect Obama will solve every problem we’ve created for ourselves. And as he asked of us earlier this evening, I’ll do my part to pull this country up by our collective bootstraps and back into the good graces of the rest of the world and of our own hearts as citizens of a country that stands for something more than the individual person, whether they live in Beverly Hills or Des Moines, Iowa. But after tonight, I’ll never forget the feeling of pure joy and sense of duty that I feel at this moment. I will never forget the lightness in my chest when I finally allowed myself to hope after years of despair. Maybe we’re in crisis and we have lots of work to do, but at least now we have a pillar of hope to cling to as we fight for what America is supposed to be.

So on this election night, which I will say might be the best night of my young life, let us not forget that we live in a country where power will change hands without bloodshed or civil war, where the dissenting party will stay involved in the political process and not be taken out back and executed. Let us remember that there are few countries in the world where that luxury is afforded. Let us remember that we, in America, are the exception and not the rule. And let us remember that we must work to keep that distinction.

YES WE CAN!

Peace, Love, and Hope,
Julia

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November 5, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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