Monday, January 5, 2009

Yes We Can

Six months ago I was convinced that the U.S. would never elect a "black" man for president. Like many, I felt that Hilary was the best chance the Democrats had to recapture the white house. Typically, I start excited about a candidate and become less enamored as time moves on - with Obama it's the opposite.

I misted up at Obama's acceptance speech, but my eyes welled up not because of his delivery, or the fact that he was black, but because Obama repudiates everything George Bush represents.

Bush in my view represents the ugliest side of America; it's jingoistic militarism, lack of nuance, stupid simplicity, religious zealotry, corporate greed, xenophobic isolationism, and egotistical righteousness.

Barack is sophisticated, cool, calm, unflappable; he inspires where Bush divides, looks for the middle ground where Bush sought to play off differences. He is a "world" citizen, a 21st century man, someone who seeks consensus, who is not afraid to engage "evil" regimes because he understands the best way to defeat them is not to isolate them but to erode them from within.

I know there will be problems, and that he will make mistakes. In a few months, no one will care anymore that Obama's black, in fact by the end of his first term his race will be a non-issue. (Which in truth, it should have been anyway.) But for the first time in my adult political life, I actually do feel hope, how quickly the world has changed from even 4 years ago where I believed that the U.S. had entered a period of slow and irrevocable decline!

And maybe it has....

But Obama has a substantial majority of democrats in both the Senate and the House, many of whom are beholden to him for getting their seats. The Democrats have been in the wilderness for a long time, and I don't foresee them becoming corrupt and complacent like the '94 crowd who was voted out of office. The fact that the country is in crisis means that the government has to act, perhaps now we will finally begin to mandate universal health care, or insist that schools rise to a higher standard. (Sorry, No Child Left Behind doesn't count, I'm a public school teacher in LAUSD. I know.)

Maybe the country will now become "green", incorporating energy policies that have long become the norm in Europe, reinvesting money in new infastructure that will in the long term create permanent jobs, save money, protect the enviroment and truly move us away from "foreign oil".

Will these things happen? Maybe. I believe Obama will try, if even one was to be accomplished, or all three were to be partially tackled, it would be a huge improvement.

Finally, Obama is an excellent example to so many kids and teenagers that by acclumating to the mainstream culture, receiving an education, and working hard, you too can become president. Your ethnicity is no longer a valid excuse to hold you back from any accomplishment, or achieving any goal. So many kids I work with are filled with rage and vile hate, children who have been taught to believe the system is "rigged" and out to get them.

The cult of victimization just had it's Gettysburg.

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