Thank You Iowa Caucus Goers

Last night was amazing.


What I am feeling right now.

My mom is from Zanzibar. She came here as student, she won a scholarship which was awarded to one student from the island each year. My dad met my mom about a month before he dropped out of Georgetown law school and left for Afghanistan with the Peace Corps. Somehow, they ended up getting married, moving to Chicago, and having a life together (and having me and my brother).

When I was four, I remember my parents talking at the dinner table about the candidates and who they liked. The next morning, my mom took me with her and as we walked through the school auditorium to the voting booth, I shouted, "Mommy, you're going to vote for Jimmy Carter, right?" She shushed me and then, later, she and my dad explained to me that voting is a private matter. I didn't really understand why. I mean, if you supported a person to be President, why wouldn't you want to tell everyone?

As I grew up, that idealism didn't exactly fade, but a cynicism with politics and politicians did manage to drown it out.

Back in early March, 2004, I remember sitting with some friends of mine at a cafe. One of my friends got up and started talking about Barack Obama (who, at the time, was running for Senator) to the cafe workers and convinced them to put a poster up in their window. When he ran out to his car to get the poster, his wife actually apologized to us for him being somewhat anti-social and I said, that it was alright, that "Barack needs him."

If you had told me then that Barack Obama would have won the Iowa Democratic Caucus and might be in a position to win the presidency in November before my then only recently conceived child turned four, I would have laughed at you and called you nuts. Heck, I remember pouring out so much of my pregnancy anxiety into an internet debate board and I remember people saying how they could imagine him as a nominee in 2008 and I, who was one of the few on the board who actually had an opportunity to vote for him, told them they were being premature.

But here we are now. Fred and I have spent this evening talking to Julian about Barack Obama and we can envision a world where he looks back with the same amount of innocence that I once felt about politics, but none of the cynicism.

And I think that, wow, here is this guy whose father was from East Africa (as is my mother) and whose mother was from the US (as is my dad) and for him to achieve this much so quickly (especially right after a political blow in 2000)...well. it is really inspiring for me, personally.


Anonymous said…
I grew up hearing how important it was to vote. My grandmother, who was widowed young, volunteered at the polls. My mother, who was active in politics in Phila. told me that if you did not vote you had no voice. In those days blacks remembered the hard struggle to have the opportunity.

Every member of my family was expected to vote and I believe we all did as soon as we were old enough. The same with my family. I ask the same of my students.

And you are right. Finally we have someone who represents the majority. He is racially mixed with a little of this and a little of that. Most of us are, and not just blacks, whose ancestors were subjected to miscegenation. (Remember we sometimes "passed" and became white, and married and had children, so only DNA can attest to who is or is not racially mixed.)

Obama is bright, he is educated, we can look at him as someone like us and up to him as a man with vision.

Please remember, after he is elected, that he has to fix a lot of ills that were a long time in the making. Like dieting, slow and steady wins the race. Remember, he will not be an island, he has to work with the Congress. Remember, he will have a cabinet to support and advise him that may not always agree with him. Remember, even the wisest man can stumble. Remember, he is human.

Most importantly, believe that he is a sincere man who really does believe in change.

It is never too soon for the right man.
Lydia Netzer said…
That is a very cool post. I have to say it's a great position to be in, when I look at any of the top three candidates on the Democrat side and would be happy to support any of them in the general election. So different from last time.

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