Why Obama gives me hope for the future
November 11, 2008
On the morning of Veteran’s Day, I flew the American flag from the porch. For the past eight years, I have been reluctant to display the flag. It had come to symbolize support for the soon-to-be-past administration’s corrupt, oppressive and self-serving domestic and foreign policies that many Americans and friends of America abhorred.
Yesterday morning I experienced the same sense of lightness and relief that many of us felt on election night as Barack Obama won the presidency. Not only is Mr. Obama’s victory restoring America the dream and America the international leader, it is bringing back our flag as a symbol of hope, not oppression, here and abroad.
Since election night, I have been on an emotional rollercoaster. I am thrilled at the victory, and that I live in a blue state. I want to share the excitement of the victory with my elders, but they have passed on. The happy tear-stained faces in Grant Park on election night evoked the spirit of Nevada activist and mentor Maya Miller, who worked every day to end oppression and promote human rights. Senator Obama delivered his victory speech next to my late father, whose 1930’s era state senate campaign poster hangs on the wall by the television. What would my moderate Republican father, born in 1909, say about this election and our next president?
This is the first election since I was old enough to vote that I have not been able to discuss the election results with my friend Aunt Betty. Although she voted (with assistance) she is no longer physically able to talk about the election. As a long time Washington, D.C., resident-observer, retired federal attorney, and devout C-SPAN fan, she would be thrilled with the changing political landscape, in Congress, the White House and internationally. I already miss her insights and questions, keen observations, and near perfect memory of past elections and statesmanlike speeches.
When I watched Barack Obama’s election night speech, I was overcome by the words. I heard flowing sentences that felt good and meant well, words destined to be together, cadence and rhythm to push the messages forth. It was like discovering a cold clear mountain stream after a parched and scorching desert hike.
During president-elect Obama’s first press conference, I was delighted by his wry smile and down-to-earth demeanor, reminiscent of President Kennedy’s humor and wit. I hope that President Obama will sustain his sense of humor and approachable manner. It has been much too long since we have been able to laugh with our President.
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We have elected a president who reads and writes, and wants to hear for himself all points of view and divergent opinions. “There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem,” said the president-elect on Nov. 4. “But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.”
I’ve been reading articles by key pundits with post-election analysis, their take on new beginnings, next steps, and missteps. It’s a new day for the written word emanating from the New York Times, Washington Post, and points west. For eight long years, the columnists, experts and know-somethings have been writing, but blinders and earplugs were part of the dress code for top leadership at the White House. If it wasn’t their message, it wasn’t relevant. Now, liberal or conservative, praise or penance, the message will be received and considered. What a change!
The economic crisis will stress-test President Obama and his administration. How this smart young charismatic man will lead us out of the economic morass remains to be seen.
But he has support beyond measure from millions of people now inspired to have hope for the future of America. For the difficult months ahead, that’s the finest kind of flag-waving.
Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nevada. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.