Over the years I've worked on this website, one of the few things I've generally tried to avoid publishing about is politics. Generally speaking, talking about politics in a non-political venue tends to do nothing but cause discord and conflict, particularly from people whose opinions don't match your own.
But tonight, I need to let off a little steam, and reflect on yesterday — not to mention the last year-plus.
I came of age in time to vote in 2000, and actively followed national and global politics in high school before that. (I even took Father Collins' AP government & politics class, which is far more than a lot of people my age seemed to do at the time.)
A few weeks ago, I realized that it's been almost a decade since I've felt respect for one of our political leaders... what with sex scandals, overblown reactions to said sex scandals, mispronunciations of the word "nuclear", unconcealed scorn for democracy, flouting of international law and the global community, vote-stealing, outright lies, warmongering, illegal imprisonment, torture, and more...
Things have been so bad, the outlook has been so grim. Our national ideals, so thoroughly trampled upon by the current administration, seemed so far gone that they couldn't be redeemed. Could anyone possibly bring us back from the brink? Or better put, could we rescue ourselves from that brink?
I wanted to believe in Barack Obama's message. But there was always that tiny bit of doubt in the back of my head, remembering how many times hope had been crushed in the past. Would this time be different? Could our new "long national nightmare" finally end?
Watching the returns last night and this morning, my feelings of cautious hope for the future gradually transformed to proud relief — not just that the whole damn election is over, but also realizing that enough of the people of America have finally stood up and said, "No more!"
Early on Election Day, it became clear that there was going to be a record turnout. That was the first point that made me happy. Because even if the candidate that I chose to vote for did not win, I would still be satisfied that more people in this country than ever before chose to make their wishes known. If the election was fairly decided, with a true and valid majority, then at least the system was working as it was intended to. Because since when does the system do exactly what you want, all the time?
Then I got to watch President-Elect Obama's speech in Chicago. And the reality of the situation slowly started to dawn on me. It's silly and clichéd, but it's true. I know that the events of the last couple of days are not true change... but they are the beginning of change. And you can't start doing anything anywhere but at the beginning.
This election has been a validation of our nation. We may stumble and make mistakes... like rejecting the Treaty of Versailles, the Great Depression, the Red Scares, and Watergate. But today, the people of America have decided to pick up the pieces and rebuild. I've never been prouder of my country than today. And I truly have hope for the future once again. It won't be perfect, but it will be good.
If you have trouble viewing the video, check out the YouTube video here: President-Elect Barack Obama in Chicago.