My general beliefs are that...
- there aren't ghosts
- we have less control over our world than we would like to believe
- dramatic changes are amazingly rare
- that game you just saw that is the best ever probably is just the best recently
- most politicians are trying to do their best but in a huge system that has amazing inertia
- as much as you'd like to believe otherwise, your team probably isn't going to win because there are a lot more non-winners than winners every season
- there isn't a higher power than science
- all your cheering and lucky shirts have almost no effect on the outcome of the big game
But every now and then...
Every so often...
Something comes along that feels different.
That just might be significant.
I have heard people say in the days leading up to Tuesday's election that this election would be the defining moment of our times, our generation, our country. That things would somehow be different now. That history was being made.
My default position on most of those things was that we rarely know when defining moments happen until far after they've happened, that we don't usually know when history is being made because we can't predict the hundreds of millions of ripples that our every action will make upon our global pond.
In light of all this, it's tough for me to admit that the election of Barack Obama...excites isn't the right word...fills me with hope is too hokey...inspires isn't quite right. I wish that I were a speaker of German so I could make up a new word that mean fills me with a sense of hopefulness and joy tinged with a fear that this hopefulness will come to nothing if the source of the excitement turns out to be nothing but empty talk, because that's much closer to the feeling that Obama's election has brought me.
On Tuesday I voted for a president for the first time.
I'd voted in presidential elections before - which, by the way, major shout out to TL who fought for her vote much more than I did and got to cast her first vote in a big one - but I'd never voted for a candidate before.
Al Gore inspired me so little that I voted for Ralph Nader. John Kerry didn't inspire me. Nor did Bill Clinton, even, in my first presidential election.
I voted in all of those elections for the candidate that I preferred, but I didn't vote for those candidates as much as I voted for the candidate that I disliked less or least.
But I voted for Barack Obama because his words, his speeches, his campaign inspired me. He didn't run the default Democratic campaign even though many of his positions would have fit it well. He ran a campaign built on defining himself as a candidate of hope, of change (as cliched as that became in the course of this campaign), and of inclusion.
He offered to help and challenged us to set aside our differences to help each other. He warned us of sacrifices that would be necessary in his administration for us to help others - through health care, through charity, through taxes. And I didn't mind. Quite the opposite, I relished the honest turn in which a candidate didn't tell me that he could hang the moon and the stars without asking to stand on my shoulders.
And, damn, it's scary to think that I've put myself so far out there, allowed my cynicism to peel away even a bit and hope for once. I feel almost the way I would if I'd just written the words I love you to a girl in a letter and sent that letter out into the ether not knowing what would ever come of the admission, whether she would turn out to be worth the hope and the risk.
And we won't know for a long time whether this girl was...is worth the risk.
Opinions related to the election that I've particularly enjoyed and/or sympathized with...
- Tom Tomorrow's blog posts from November 5th
- Kyle's thoughts on fear and its release
- Katydid's close-up view of history
- Chris's reasons to vote Obama
- Calen's challenge
- Geddy Lee's ponderings on "Free Will"
- Go Tell Mama's campaign work