One week ago today, Barack Hussein Obama -- a young father, a black man, a Democrat, a visionary -- was elected President of the United States.
L and I were two of the millions who reported spontaneously bursting into tears -- not only during his acceptance speech, but whenever we read a news article or saw a TV spot about him over the next 24 hours. Eight years of tension, shame, and mistrust were over -- actually finally effing over, and ended by the most incredible, transformational figure we could have dreamed of! For the first time in our adult consciousness (we were only 16 when Bush was elected the first time), we had voted for -- and succeeded in getting -- a leader that we trusted. Not only that, but the entire world, from Australia to Kenya, was proud of us in a way that I had never experienced. The world sympathized with us after 9/11 -- supported us, encouraged us -- but the last time all those countries were proud of us, feeling uplifted by us, looking to us for inspiration? I can't remember such a day.
9/11 sparked a unifying of the American people themselves, too -- but it was largely an outpouring of defiant nationalism sparked by shock and fear. Inspiring, yes, but for the wrong reasons. Barack Obama winning the 2008 elections has sparked a similar feeling of unity -- this time, for all the right reasons.
I can remember being a college junior during Obama's DNC speech in 2004, sitting in front of my computer in my tiny apartment bedroom, feeling the hair stand up on my neck as Obama gave his speech. I knew at that moment, as did so many others, that he was something special; I had the overwhelming sense, "That man is what we need!!!" I spent the next four years hoping beyond hope, in the back of my mind, that he would someday be our president, never believing it would actually happen. When he announced his bid, I couldn't believe it. Something I wanted, actually coming true on a national stage?! When he beat Hillary -- though I felt a definite fondness for her, too -- my hopes rose even higher. And on November 4th, they reached a towering crescendo... finally cresting and crashing upon the beach of relief and euphoria. President Obama. President Obama!
The disconcerting -- and, at the same time, reassuring -- thing is this: I trust Barack Obama. I do not simply follow him for lack of any other choice, hoping for the best; I truly trust him to take care of us all, and help us to the best of his ability. If there is something he wants, I trust that he knows best in the long run. If there is something he cannot or will not do, I trust that he has a good reason. I trust that he has my best interests -- and L's, and my parents', and my downstairs neighbors' -- at heart as he sits in the Oval Office. I trust that he is honest and genuine in what he says to us: "I will not be a perfect president, but I can promise you... I will always tell you what I think and where I stand." Something about him goes beyond charisma for me -- something unexplainable. I honestly think I would trust him with my life, and I am not a person who says such a thing lightly.
Not only do I trust the words he has said, I trust the ones he hasn't. It has not escaped my attention that three same-sex marriage bans were passed last week by the same American people who voted this incredible man into office. I trust that if Obama has the power to change things for us, to lead the next civil rights battle after finally shattering the ultimate racial barrier, that he will.
I don't believe he has all the answers -- but I believe he knows where to look to find them. I believe he knows how to strike a compromise between dissenting parties. And I believe he possesses the ability to talk to people in a way that they can understand, without being condescending, even if they don't agree. He is exactly what we need at this dark hour.
He is going to change our country, and our people, for the better.
I can't wait to watch him work.