Those Magic Changes
The good news is that this week I have off from work. The bad news is that I had so much to do this week, I still didn't get to blog. Now I am only blogging because I am sick. Lovely, right? Considering I don't have much energy for anything else, I'm trying my hand at blogging. I guess you could say it's good that I'm finally getting it done, but just because a gun is being held to your head doesn't mean you want to do something. Sorry, maybe the sickness is making me delirious. What I'm trying to say is it somehow doesn't feel right that this is the way I get some blogging in. I like the creative juices to flow-- which they always seem to do late at night, while I'm falling asleep --and if I get up and write it all down, I'll be sleep deprived for work the next morning.
The one topic I wanted to blog about this week was the topic that was on most Americans minds- voting for our next president. I suppose a few days late is better than never. Those of you who are old school AOGB readers might be surprised to see that I did vote at all after my behaviors during the last election. To be honest, I still agree with a lot of the things I said in that post. But that doesn't change the fact that the overwhelming guilt I felt about not voting overshadowed not voting at all, if that makes any sense. I am still bummed though I didn't get any stickers, coffee, ice cream or even say, sex toys for voting on Tuesday. Although I have to admit the practice itself seems a bit like the polls are some generous grandfather and us, the voting public, are the grandchildren rewarded for being good while grocery shopping.
All goodies aside, this was an election many people were passionate about and with good reason. No matter which side won, it was going to be a landmark event. That's because on one side there would be the first woman vice president, and on the other side we'd have the first African American president. Months ago my husband and I had, who are equally disillusioned with the politics of America, had a discussion about who we thought would win. He thought McCain was going to win, I thought Obama. He thought McCain because he believed no matter how badly some people wanted change, many were not ready to vote for an African American president, at least not the majority. I believe he would win regardless of this fact if only because a lot of America had such a bad taste in their mouth courtesy of the current Republican administration. This again isn't stating what we wanted necessarily, just what we thought might occur.
As election night got closer I had my finger on the pulse of the nation also known as the not able to vote, voters who are under the age of 11. If you had a conversation with a lot of the older kids in my school you would see that they too were passionate about the election, as passionate as third grade students can get that is. I found this to be true much more so than the last time we elected a president. I guess the strong feelings their parents had about this election was contagious.
Since we aren't in school this week, we held a school wide mock election last week, complete with voting booths with curtains for "authenticity's" sake. Even before they cast their vote though I knew which way it was going to go down- out of our 700 and something students, 639 votes were for Obama, 125 were for McCain. We also had 5 Hanging Chads, but that's not important now. The reason why I can't give you an exact number is because technically some teachers might have voted as well, but for the most part, that vote was indicative of what the majority of children, and ultimately America, wanted.
One thing that was hard to explain on a third grade level was the fact that public voting alone doesn't determine who the next president is. There are all those damn electoral votes to contend with which to be honest, I don't even understand completely myself. I will say this though- no matter how much I don't love the events leading up to the election, I do like election night. I like watching the excitement that so obviously permeates the newsrooms of television and the fly by night nature in the delivery of the news that so many news reporters are forced to use. This is where you separate the men from the boys. One reporter compared it to the excitement you might see on New Year's Eve which is analogy I was thinking of myself. Only on New Years, we all know what's coming. With an election, you don't know for sure. Oh and New Years has performances by people like Fergie, but I digress.
So one thing is fairly certain. Now that Barack Obama has won things are bound to be pretty different in the White House, as well as the nation. But in Obama's surprisingly subdued acceptance speech he put it best when he said that change may not come in a year or even in his first term. He acknowledges that while he has different ideas, there is a lot of work to be done, or undone as the case may be. Some people are afraid of change, especially Obama's brand of change, because he's so much more liberal than any other president we've had.
Still it's hard not to be moved no matter what side you stand on when you watch the sea of faces, mainly the African American ones, watching Obama make that first speech. I mean seriously, if you're not African American, just put yourself in their shoes for a moment. That win is monumental. I know that and I was moved by it and I'm NOT black. The fact of the matter is as much as this wasn't an election rooted in race relations, there are still some people I believe who voted for or against Obama precisely because of that. Where Obama himself stands on this issue remains to be seen. Did a lot of African American voters vote for Obama simply because he was African American? Probably. But at the same time, did a lot of people not vote for Obama simply because he was black? That too has an element of certainty. I know because when discussing such things with friends I found many of them, without knowing it, showed shades of discrimination in their reasons not to vote for him. I guess it's true when they say the more things change, the more they stay the same.
No matter where you stand on where the new administration will take this nation, I really do hope that the American public does not make this upcoming presidency all about race. It would be truly ironic if America's reputation in the world improved as more countries grew to respect Obama's leadership and his win only for their to be more division within America itself. You can be happy, unhappy, skeptical or even hopeful, but no one should feel like they've lost. It's a new world, no matter how you spin it. Give someone a chance before you dismiss them completely. After all, we've only just begun.