Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yes We Can (Bore You With Our Political Musings As Well As Our Home Movies)

I hesitated a bit to publish this here, since this is mainly a place for me to ramble on about my kids and my eventless existence, rather than a forum for my political views (that's what Facebook is for ;-)) But then I figured my 2 readers might actually enjoy a little content for a change.

I was awake at 4-ish a.m. GMT when Senator McCain delivered his concession speech. (I'm linking to the NY Times because I like their format, with the text alongside; also because I am a socialist.) I thought it was inspirational, heartfelt, and deeply moving. I felt like I was once again seeing the McCain I have admired for the past decade, the McCain who was so little in evidence during the past several months. He was quick to suppress the "boo"s that greeted nearly every mention of Senator Obama's name (very poor form, supporters, though I recognize that it's easier to be gracious in victory than defeat). He reminded us of what was most important. He focused on what needs to be done now to improve our situation. I wish this McCain had campaigned this year. I hope he's back to stay.

I was still awake around 5 when Senator Obama took the stage in Chicago and delivered one of the most powerful speeches in American history. This speech will be quoted along with Lincoln's, Kennedy's, Martin Luther King's for decades, probably centuries to come. The fact that it was intentionally written to be that sort of speech in no way detracts from its power- it made the grade. I have not heard a speech of this caliber in my lifetime. If Senator Obama didn't get your vote, I wouldn't be surprised to find that you felt differently (I hope you will go back and give it another chance when the sting of McCain's loss has faded, because it is full of beautiful language and, more importantly, beautiful ideas and ideals that are deeply American), but maybe as you listened you at least got a sense of why so many of us are filled with hope at the idea of an Obama presidency. I didn't say "filled with certainty"- we are filled with hope. We don't think he's a perfect man or will be a perfect president. But we admire him for who he is, for what he's accomplished with this campaign, and he is not merely a symbol, as valuable and stirring as that is. He is an intelligent person who has shown he is willing to listen to other intelligent people, to think creatively, to take a longer view. He is a politician, sure, and he has pandered; he has said and done things I don't agree with, and I expect he will in the future. I don't know exactly what his presidency will bring, and I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that he will be a transformative president. But what I saw Tuesday night gives me hope. I don't believe he won because of the economy, or because of fear of a Palin presidency, or fear of anything. I think he won because he consistently reminded us of what was best inside of us all, and he reminded us to hope. Certainly he set that tone in this speech, and I hope and pray he continues, we all continue, in that vein for the next four years and beyond.

It is shaping up to be an interesting time. Russia woke up Wednesday morning ready to kill everyone's buzz with the news that America is to blame for everything that's wrong in the world. I'm sorry- Russia? The country that for sixty years turned the economy, infrastructure, culture, history and future of everything they touched into rubble, to the extent that nearly two decades on we are still reaping the whirlwind everywhere they set their feet- and after all that their leader said that the COLLAPSE of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century- this is the country that is telling us that WE have ruined the world? Russia, you've lost a lot of things, but I never thought I'd live to see the day when you lost your sense of irony. Yet here we are.

And that's just one issue. It's understandable that we are all a little nervous about what is to come. But over the past couple of days I've seen a lot of blog posts, e-mails, and comments expressing, not just uncertainty, but fear and despair about the future now that Barack Obama is our President-elect. Hey, I felt that way myself in 2000 and 2004, and look how well that turned out... But I hope, and I think I have every reason to believe, that we have a better, more intelligent, more thoughtful man leading us now than we have in a long time (take that "long time" back as long as you need to in order to feel comfortable with it ;-)) I don't think his optimism is unfounded. I love what he said about "summon(ing) a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other." If there's anything that will get us through whatever lies ahead, it will be that spirit. His speech served as a reminder that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Those things will get us through anything that comes our way. I hope and believe Obama's got more going for him than words. Only time will tell. But I love that he's started out by reminding us that we all have to step up our game and be prepared for sacrifices along the way. And I love that he's done it so eloquently. Being eloquent isn't everything, but it's not nothing either.

Let me end with something I think we can all agree on, along with the hope that the sum total of Obama's presidency will be as inspiring as this, one of the most stirring lines from his speech:

"(T)he true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals- democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope."


Trub said...

I won't steal your thunder by adding my own thoughts here (I don't have my own blog and so comment on other peoples'), but this was beautiful.

Your final quote from Obama's speech is a great explication and filling out of Clinton's brilliant chiasmus in his DNC speech: "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."

This was the first time I've ever watered up walking to the polls and I nearly lost it when I saw the 2 hour line. In solidly blue Connecticut. It was a beautiful thing.

I spent the rest of the day listening to Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come on loop.

It finally has.

Thank you for your thoughts.

Gold-E said...

Outstanding! Very well said.

lois lane said...

Sarah, I love what you've written! and felt very moved. I too most loved that last quote you shared - succinct, inspiring and powerful. Love ya! Louise 'o) xx

Keri said...

Couldn't have said it better! I can't believe how many people are scared, nay, TERRIFIED by the Obama win here in Utah. What, exactly is so terrifying? I heard all the anti-Christ rhetoric when Clinton won too, so is it just the political party and it's policies? And how can it get more terrifying than a president who will lead us into an unneccesary war, spend us into the ground, impose No Child Left Behind, and take away civil liberties in the name of national security?

I was inspired in a way no political speech in my lifetime has had the power to do before when I listened to Obama's speech in Mile High Stadium on the last night of the Democratic Convention. Being in that crowd, and realizing how historic that night was - it was truly transformative.

Nate said...

Like you, I thought is was transcendent. Very solidly blue Oregon had 83% of eligible voters vote. That should attest to the importance that this election took in people's lives. Luckily for us, Oregon is progressive enough to do all ballots by mail, which I love. As is our custom, Alicia and I spent about two hours several days before the election reviewing candidates and issues and making our selections. Then we went for Mexican food.

I find it especially fascinating that you link to the NY Times. While I like NYT lots (and unlike Palin, read it), I tend to find myself going to most often. How's that for irony.

colie-o said...

I didn't know you had a blog! this is so good. I amen everything you said. Love it! You have got yourself a new reader!

Anny said...

Well said -- my sentiments exactly.

Stacey said...

Just found your awesome blog, Sarah. Can't believe I've been missing out all this time! Here, here. What an amazing night with one gracious and one awe inspiring speach. It will be refreshing to have a President who can speak again. My 76 year old friend said to me yesterday as we mused over President-elect Obama "It feels just like when Kenedy was elected."

Marie said...

Beautiful post Sarah! I think both speeches were pretty wonderful and this was a very historic vote and will be remembered for time to come.

I would like to share a quote with you:

"Barack Obama was not my choice, but he is my president. That is true of all Americans. For the last eight years, there has been an ongoing campaign of destruction meant to handicap and hobble the last president. I refuse to be part of an effort to do the same to the next president. Those who didn't vote for Barack Obama must set a higher standard of civility and citizenship than those who didn't vote for George W. Bush. In defeat, there must still be nobility.The last eight years have taught us what happens when you set out to destroy a presidency for political gain. You help your candidate, but you hurt your country. That pattern must not be followed with this new president. America must treat Barack Obama better than he treated George W. Bush." Bob Lonsberry

I am not an American and probably should not have an opinion on any of this. I do believe however that since he is the most influential and powerful man in the world what he does can and will have a far reaching impact on even those of who do not live in America. I hope America remains "One Nation Under God."

Heather said...


I was thrown to see your comment on my blog! Hello! I think of you every Christmas time when I see your name on my old Christmas card list and wonder if you even remember good ol' Stamford days. And now I've found your blog (I am a blog-lover, probably because I am a cleaning-toilet hater).

I will check in often, particularly because I enjoy reading good writing.

Good to hear from you! And you need to throw in a picture of yourself . . . I had to go all the way to your entry about your wedding to make sure it was you! :)

julie said...

Loved this post. Loved your thoughts. Can't really add anything in the comment section because you covered it all. But, I think people are scared because he talks about change, and change is scary, even when it can be good. I cry when I have to move two miles up the street.

I also had to agree with your thoughts on John McCain. I wish he would have represented himself.

And lastly, I'm with Heather, you need to post photos of yourself! I want to see you!

skousenmom said...

All I can say is I hope you are right. Obama is a brilliant speaker. But his socialist leanings really give me pause. I personally am sick to death of both political parties and the way they care more about their own power than the people. I am greatly concerned about the free check Nancy Pelosi has just been given, and the fact you all seem to think that government should be involved in every aspect of our lives. I would just like to raise my family the way I think is best, but at the rate we are losing our freedoms, pretty soon the government will be telling me how to do that too. I just can't figure out how you are for that. Still, maybe Obama will be a great president. I hope so. He does speak like one. Lets hope his actions are even greater than his words. I am willing to judge him by what he actually does, not just the rhetoric. Hope you think that's fair. Well written blog by the way. Even if we don't see eye to eye. Hope you don't mind a different point of view. Love ya.

colie-o said...

I think it's time for an update...