I waited until this morning to write this. I wanted to see what it would feel like to wake up knowing that Barack Obama is the leader of the country. Got to tell you.. it’s a great feeling.
Early in the primary, I was leaning on supporting Hillary Clinton. She was the brand name, well known candidate. John Edwards had my ear too. Like most people, I only knew Barack Obama from his 2004 convention speech. That night he wow’d everyone. Not a minute after he finished, news commentators whispered that he could run for president one day.. imagine that.
In August 2006, I wrote the first post-convention Whudat blurb about Barack Obama. He was in Men’s Vogue. When asked if he would run for president, Barack answered, “Look, it was highly unlikely that I would ever be a U.S. senator, so it’s very flattering for people to talk about a presidential race.. But added.. “My attitude about something like the presidency is that you don’t want to just be the president. You want to change the country. You want to make a unique contribution. You want to be a great president.”
I commented that he would probably run in 2012, after Hillary lost her bid. To everyone’s surprise (outside his inner circle) in February 2007, Barack announced that he was running for president in 2008. While I was interested in his story and impressed by his eloquence, I didn’t know enough about him as a political candidate to stick on a big ol’ Obama campaign button. And it wasn’t until the Iowa primary that I took a real look at his campaign.
It wasn’t just winning in a majority white state. It was how Hillary Clinton wasn’t taking Barack Obama seriously. As if his run was, cute adolescent idealism. Really, a black guy is going to be president? I took that kind of subtle disrespect personal. Then there were people saying he had no real plans.
One Saturday morning I’m flipping channels. I’m on CSPAN. There was Barack Obama in a half-crowded auditorium, giving a live, unfiltered, stump speech. He laid it all out: from the health care plan, to the taxes, to Iraq. What really impressed me about him, was how he seemed to care about the answer he gave to people during the Q&A session. This wasn’t politics by the numbers. About a month later I was sold on this ‘Change’ and firmly seated on the Obama train.
He was the best candidate.
Yesterday, 62 million people (white, black, latino, asian) agreed.
Around the world (that’s India), Barack Obama was the choice for change.
Let’s put the upcoming policy decisions aside: there will be plenty of time for that.
What makes me smile today is the example President Obama should become for the youth of this country. I’d say black youth, but this morning I heard a Hispanic woman say she was excited about the opportunities for the latino community. I’m sure there are young white people who are a little more focused today. Barack Obama’s rise is an example of what’s possible if you put your mind to it - period.
He did not run as.. the black president. I don’t think millions of white people voted for him because of his race and no black/brown person should have voted solely for that reason, but the undeniable side benefit of an African-American man being the face of the country is how it effectively vaporizes any idea that race is a reason to accept defeat or limitation.
Here’s the best thing: you don’t have to reach for president to benefit. Just be focused on *insert career dream here*
Barack Obama in Grant Park - Yes We Can!
What a way to end a campaign.
This is a historic time, people. Enjoy it.