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President-elect Barack Obama

I'm having trouble coming to terms with Barack Obama's victory in the presidential election. I mean this in a number of ways.

The most straightforward is the truly remarkable racial barrier that he has broken. This seems to be the part that a lot of the major press is focusing on. But for me, I ceased to see him as "a black man" a long time ago, and just started seeing him as all the other things that will make him a great president -- his intelligence and honesty, his desire for bipartisan progress, his stance on the war, health care, reproductive choice, the economy, the environment, education, science policy and gay rights, his calm and steadfastness in the face of a brutal campaign, his humor and perspective. The fact that he is African-American is almost an afterthought to me. But the emphasis everyone else is placing on this part makes me feel like I'm missing something.

More significant to me is the fact that someone who does possess all these qualities is actually the president. This is unprecedented for me. I grew up during the Clinton administration, blissfully unaware of the prosperity that era brought. George W. Bush was elected the year I turned 20 -- before I became politically conscious. As long as I have had political opinions, the president has been in opposition of them. I don't know how to live in a world where the president is someone I agree with. I'm excited as hell to figure it out. But it's strange.

But most affecting has been my emotional involvement in this. I'm not quite sure when it started, but it's been an incredibly passionate election. And now that it's over -- and we won! -- it feels simultaneously like the best possible resolution and the most jarring anticlimax I've ever experienced. In the stark light of Wednesday morning, I saw this man for what he is -- inspiring but inexperienced, visionary but not omniscient -- in other words, human. Like me. His strengths are many, and I've been so excited about him and invested so much hope and belief in his ability to do this job well. But at the end of it, he's still just a man. And damned if we haven't given him the hardest job in the world.

Now it's as if all that hope and belief needs to be realized. And while I really do think his chances of doing it are good, that's just the issue! I'm still so personally invested in the person we've chosen to realize it. The man I want at the helm is there. What is this feeling? Could it be... involvement? Responsibility? You mean I can't just blithely dismiss what my president does now? What's more, I feel like he is carrying all of us with him in there, up to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, about to wade in to this terrible mess we've gotten ourselves into. And that I'm actually excited about that. Is that how this is supposed to feel?

This is going to be so different. At least, I hope it is. At least, I think I hope it is. It's just so... different.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 7, 2008 9:46 PM.

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