Image by Rev. Santino via Flickr
I’ve neglected this spot for the past few days, busy at work and stressing out about the 2008 Presidential elections. The outcome — this country’s resounding support for the most inspirational leader I’ve seen in many years — was more than my cynical little heart could have dreamed. An African-American man elected by more than 72 million people to the highest office in this land, and my faith in our country instantaneously restored.
For months, I have figuratively held my breath and yet have been buffeted by the highs and lows of the polls. I have made the mistake of briefly bringing up politics with the wrong people, quickly regretting my decision to do so and then questioning my own conscience and choices. It was so personal and emotional. I was so repulsed by Gov. Palin that I could barely see straight, and so went looking for individuals who felt the same way, both in my everyday life and online. I developed an insatiable appetite for details about the campaigns so I could defend my decision against even the most well-read challengers.
I embraced my two college-age children when they told me that I was on the moral high ground for supporting Barack Obama, and they joined me in that support. Which was a huge relief — because my husband was supporting McCain. He and I argued like children at times, until we finally decided to quietly retreat into our own corners. He, watching the Fox News Channel and Bill O’Reilly. Me, reading the Internet and volunteering to call battleground states for the Obama-Biden campaign. I wore campaign buttons.
I contributed money to the Obama campaign, something I haven’t done since I purchased tickets to a fundraising dinner for George McGovern in 1972. When people leapt to their feet after McGovern spoke at that dinner, I did, too, convinced that he was on his way to defeating Richard Nixon and pulling our troops out of Vietnam. But I was in college then, and so idealistic. And so wrong. Then Watergate happened, and I lost what little was left of my idealism.
Until last night.
During the lull between the announcement that Obama had been elected as our 44th president, and his speech at Chicago’s Grant Park, I checked my emails.
There, at the top, was a message from Obama:
I’m about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.
We just made history.
And I don’t want you to forget how we did it.
You made history every single day during this campaign — every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it’s time for change.
I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.
We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I’ll be in touch soon about what comes next.
But I want to be very clear about one thing…
All of this happened because of you.
George McGovern never thanked me.
And so, some 30 years after I thought I’d misplaced it forever, I feel college-student idealism coursing through my veins again.