Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Regarding the Presidential Election...

Last night at about one oclock in the morning I found myself sweating in the middle of a crowd of 50 Peace Corps Volunteers, watching a grainy image of Barack Obama on a TV screen. The picture was going in and out, but the audio was constant. What I heard quite literally brought tears to my eyes.

Many of you readers know my politics. Yes, I agree with most of the views that President Elect Obama holds on policy issues. The emotion I felt last night had absolutely nothing to do with health care reform, taxes, or even the war in Iraq. So bear with me...

In my life time four Presidents have lived in the White House, and I remember three of them. I have lived in States with governors, and cities with mayors. I have always been concious that my leaders were somewhere out there, and that they were supposed to be working to serve me. They would make speeches on televison or the radio that were written to tell me how good a job they were doing. To convince me of their goodness, and to pander for my vote. I've grown up in this system, and I guess I've gotten used to it. Never once have my leaders asked ME for service or sacrifice. They seem content with votes.

Barack Obama does not fit into this equation, and that's why he started sticking out to me when he popped onto the national stage in 2004. His message is that if we want to see a better nation and world, we need to work for it. His often repeated anthem "yes, we can" has little to do with empty wishful thinking, and much more to do with joining together in a collective effort to improve things. The slogan is not "Yes, OBAMA can," it's "Yes, WE (meaning all of us) can."

My generation is beginning to understand that we can't count on politicians to fix the world for us. We need to take action. That is why we hold candle light vigils for darfur, or join the Peace Corps. Yet still we hunger for leadership. We are looking for people with wisdom and vision to challenge us to shed our apathy and work harder. To help us find that path. I see this hunger every time that I talk to fellow Peace Corps Volunteers. They want to be challenged, and asked for more than a vote.

My friends and I wept last night because we finally see a leader who understands our desire. He knows why we have moved away from home to take part in an idealistic task that at times seems futile. He is asking us to roll up our sleeves and keep going. "Finally," we say, "a leader who seems to be worth following." This is much more important than "liberal" and "conservative."

I also wept at the thought of how far America has come. Had Barack Obama lived in the South fifty years ago, he would not have been allowed to vote, or ride in the front of a bus. Now he has been elected to the highest office in the land. Perhaps we have reached the day that Dr. King dreamed about, when individuals "would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." This is something that is worth celebrating.


ebrown53717 said...

Nicely put, Tim. Good job.


Anonymous said...

Hey Tim,
It's been a long time since I read your blog, but knowing you would have something to say about the election I tuned in. Ya know...keep it fair and balanced :)

While I agree with your sentiment about Barack's ability convey what an individual and hard work can accomplish, indeed Barack and his campaign have exemplified this, however, I find that despite this message, Barack then proposes a multitude of gov't assistance to help just about everyone but the rich. I found it one big contradiction.

Not that I think McCains ideas were much better, I'm just saying...

Anyway, I don't suppose you are gonna come visit and see the inauguration are you?

Hope all is well,


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