Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Dawning of A New Day

What an amazing - amazing - night for our country.

After many long months of campaigning, staying dignified and calm, quiet yet strong, and putting his life and those of his wife, children and family on the world table for everyone to scrutinize, criticize and question, a magnificent man has been chosen as the next President of the United States.

Barack Obama. The President-Elect of the United States of America.

The man who will carry the burden of leading our ailing country in a brand new direction, out of the dark and into the light. The first African-American President in our country's long and colorful 232-year history. It is truly amazing, and my heart bursts with pride in my fellow Americans for taking the road less traveled. For choosing a candidate who represented TRUE change.

This is not your typical middle-aged, pompous, wealthy, thoroughly Washington-entrenched, white male candidate, the same as we've seen election after election, without fail, for as long as I can remember. I believed we'd see a woman in office before we'd see an African-American man in office, simply because of the way things have always been in the U.S., and even that was a stretch in my opinion, much as I hoped otherwise. He is different.

For starters, the obvious: He's African-American. And that's not just a standard American label for Barack Obama; it's the truth: His mother was a white American and his father a black African, born and raised in Kenya. And so, like so many in our American "melting pot," Barack Obama is bi-racial. He represents both Caucasians and African-Americans, giving him an incredibly broad appeal across the racial spectrum.

Nonetheless, I cannot imagine what a life-changing, hard-core emotional and inspirational moment it was for African-Americans across our nation - and across the world - when Obama was announced as the new President-Elect last night around 10pm CST. While I myself am not African-American, my own heart was bursting with excitement and joy at this unprecedented win, so I can only imagine how it must feel for my fellow humans in the black community, and particularly for his family. It breaks my heart that his grandmother died just days before his historic win, though I have no doubt that she was celebrating it wherever she is now.

Barack Obama wasn't raised in a stereotypical upper middle class or wealthy two-parent family. He was raised by his single mother and his grandparents, in modest surroundings. He was taught values that many of our own children are not taught growing up in more traditional American families. It seems that one of the most important lessons he was taught was not to take anything in his life for granted, to appreciate the people and opportunities that are afforded to us, always.

He worked hard, like so many other Americans, to educate himself and build a solid career and life for himself and his family. His success came through hard work and proving himself socially and professionally, over and over again. His wealth was earned, not inherited or married into.

His faith is strong, his ethics rock solid. He knows he is not an island unto himself. He gives credit where credit is due, time and again, and again.

In short, he represents living proof that the American dream still exists and is still achievable. And that it is an opportunity that exists for everyone in this country.

I remember when Barack Obama first threw his hat into the ring. Thinking to myself that he was a true maverick, for having both the composure and the guts to make such a bold move when the odds were all against him. He seemed like such a long-shot to make it all the way to the final ballot. But as his campaign grew in scope and intensity, as I heard him speak so eloquently time and again about his vision for our country, I found myself drawn to him like a moth to a flame. He made sense to me. He represented almost the exact opposite of every other candidate that has come before him, in this election or any other. And I liked that. I liked it a lot.

He was different. New, fresh, dynamic, elegant, dignified, strong, smart as a whip, captivating. Absolutely the thought has crossed my mind that perhaps he's just really, really good at blowing smoke up our asses, that his stunning stage presence and eloquence is more Bill Clinton-esque than that of someone truly unique. (And, by the way, I voted for and thought Clinton was a phenomenal President, despite his personal problems and lack of morals when it came to honoring his marriage vows.)

But my gut instincts about Barack Obama are strong - I believe him when he talks about his love for this country, when he speaks of unifying our much-fractured country, when he promises to do everything he can for the benefit of his fellow Americans. I trust him.

I believe the change we are seeking is coming. It will most certainly take time for Obama to undo the damage that has been done by G. Dub., but I believe that Obama's vision and leadership will prevail. Will he be a perfect President? Undoubtedly no. He will make mistakes, just as all the others have before him. But - unlike the others - I don't believe there is any insane hunger for power that will make Obama act selfishly or in ways that are contrary to the well being of his fellow Americans. His love for this country is evident in every humble word spoken by him, and I feel very fortunate to have a President-Elect who so clearly understands the enormity of the responsibility he is about to undertake.

It's the dawning of a new day, my friends. And this girl couldn't be happier about it.

Congratulations to Barack Obama, to his wife Michelle, and to his daughters Sasha and Malia!

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