The Will of the People
The first time I voted was in 2008, for Barack Obama. I was 26 years old. I am embarrassed to admit, that before his historic run, I was a bit aloof about politics. I didn't believe in politicians. I didn't believe in their words - found their promises to be empty babble, doubting their intent, or that they could actually do anything that would impact my life. Yes, the selfish and foolish thoughts of a young girl. But now, looking back, I think about that young woman, and what finally made me tune in. Yes, of course, Obama was inspiring, his speeches drawing tears and cries of "hell yeahs." But there was something else... You see, as a black girl, raised in this world, I was always immensely aware of myself: Is my skin too dark, my hair too kinky, am I talking or acting too "white," is my "blackness" making my white peers uncomfortable, am I sounding or acting like a bad black stereotype, why am I the only black person in the room, do I belong here, why is that sales person side-eyeing me in the store....?? on and on. So when the Obama's burst onto the scene, it wasn't just a shock to see them, it was a shock to see them being accepted, embraced (I'm of course not ignoring the dissenters, but just bear with me). I went to rallies and I saw thousands of people inspired, excited, screaming happily for the Obamas. I worked the phone lines, wore Obama t-shirts, heck we even bought a Shepard Ferry - CHANGE - because "wow," I thought "look at all this amazingness dedicated to this black man and his vision." It was a first for my generation. A first for me to experience first hand. Obama created a movement of hope and change within people that in many ways transcended race, class, gender, religion, and sexual orientation (racists, sexists, homophobes excluded, of course). It was the excitement of the people that helped get me excited.
When Obama won, there was so much love in the air. Did that happen in your city? It did in mine. There was so much love and respect. I remember walking down the street and people smiling and nodding, all people, black, white, everything in between. Because we all knew that we had just done something special. We live in a democracy - for the people, by the people. And in 2008 the people were a force of inspiration.
Fast forward to 2016. And again, it's the people. Trump is one man. One man who has lied, disrespected woman, made racist comments, grew his wealth on the backs of laborers without paying taxes, and seriously threatened 1st amendment rights. But he is just one man. What truly scares me is the people. The throngs of people chanting vulgarities, embracing racists sentiments, endorsing disrespect. The mobs of angry people are terrifying!
I know many of us feel fatigued by this election cycle. I just feel sad and scared. I am scared for this country and for my place in it. I'm sad that people really thought the best they could give their children as a leader was an angry, entitled bully. I am sad for the people. Because even if Trump loses, he will just climb back up to his penthouse, but those people, the once taunting the media, shouting "lock her up" at rallies, and brushing off his disgusting behavior as "locker room talk" - those people are still here. Those people have been given a loud voice, and I'm not sure that they will go away quietly into the night.
But through all the smog of hate, there is also a buzz in the air. A buzz of excitement that we are about to go from our first black President to our first Madame President. Can you feel it? There is a buzz because every woman who has had to compete in this world understands what Hillary is up against. There is a buzz because through it all, she has remained poised and focused. The buzz is exciting....
And I just hope that when this election is over tomorrow - and when Hillary wins ;) - that we can find inspiration and find hope in unity. Wishful thinking I know, but a girl can dream...