Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day After: One Blogger's Opinion

[Warning: In the following, the author of this blog shares his political views. This post has nothing to do with cinema. Well, almost nothing ...]

November 3, 2004

November 5, 2008

This is a contribution to the Politics & Movies Blog-a-thon. Cinematic responses encouraged ...


Allison said...

Fucking brilliant.

I kept thinking throughout the night how to voice what I was feeling. It is relief. It IS what the youtube post is.

I saw the faces of black Americans, white Americans, gay Americans, young Americans, old Americans; and they all said they same thing: Sigh. We can breath again.

What happened tonight and the visuals that came from this victory signifies America. I have not felt a sense of joy for my country like this in years. I have felt shame and embarrassment. I was losing my appreciation for just how amazing this country is. Because I did not believe in the people running it. I did not think they were smart. Or had the best interest of the PEOPLE in this country in their mind. It has not been about us.

I did not allow myself to start feeling the joy until it was a reality. Because, truthfully, I wasn't sure the people of America had it in them. I did not know if this change would be possible.

But, seeing the the utter relief and pride in everyone's face tonight made me calm and peaceful in a way I haven't been in a LONG time.

Yes. We. Can.

Fox said...

Though I did not vote for either John McCain or Barack Obama, I can understand the passion and excitement Obama supporters have today for their candidate of choice.

But, what I find strange is the absolute euphoria people are expressing. Not to pick on Allison, sincerely - and I mean this with all respect to her - but she is the fifth person/friend I've read today say that "they are finally proud of their country". If you weren't proud of your country before yesterday, then why does simply electing a man to office suddenly make you proud?

I understand that people hated Bush, and maybe part of the excitement is that they feel free from him and his administration. I get that. But shouldn't we AT LEAST wait until Obama's 100 Days are up before a "WE ARE SAVED!" wave of emotion is unleashed? Perhaps I just don't believe in politicians as much as others do.

I was proud of my country before Obama and I will still be proud after Obama. I guess I believe in the generosity of our citizens over the character of our politicians to define pride. I look at the goodwill, donations, and volunteer work that Americans gave to Indonesian tsunami victims. I saw fellow Texans take in victims of Katrina and make them their neighbors. These are things to be proud of.

Having said that, I wish our new Pres. Elect well.

Allison said...

So, maybe saying "proud of my country" was a little slightly off. I have always been proud to live in America. Regardless of who the President, we live in a country that provides opportunity and privileges that many others do not.

Having said that. I was not proud when I heard George Bush speak. I voted for Obama and I am happy to see if things can be different, but I didn't HATE George Bush or John McCain. Although, I couldn't respect George Bush because he didn't come across or knowledgeable or intelligent. and, my feeling was that he is the person representing our country. Which sometimes embarrassed me.

Jason Bellamy said...

Fox: Well, you aren’t picking on Allison. Not sure how your friends said it, but Allison qualified her statements of pride (“in years” and “in a long time”).

Having said that, I totally agree with your main point: Obama is a mere promise, not a guarantee. The challenges ahead are too daunting for one man, one administration or one term. But symbols aren’t always empty. President Bush became a symbol of hope for the country after 9/11. What did he do? He talked on a bullhorn and threw out a first pitch. And he made promises that only Karl Rove could argue he delivered on by the end of his administration.

But in troubled times immediately after 9/11, Bush was the symbol the country needed. I didn’t vote for him. Not the first time. Certainly not the second. And yet I was filled with pride when he threw that perfect ceremonial pitch in New York. It was a great moment. Perhaps an empty one in the long-term, but certainly not in the short term.

Today, however, Bush is a symbol of something else. And Obama is a symbol of change. I can’t speak for everyone, but I imagine what I’m about to say is true for most: Yes, we have felt pride numerous times for our country, and some level of pride never went away. But in the past eight years, many of us have become ashamed of our country and its leaders (not just Bush) in ways we couldn’t previously imagine: Torture. Lies. Incompetence. And rampant, repugnant fear mongering.

I hope that any American who says he/she is proud of this country for the first time is misspeaking. Then again, perhaps such slips are telling. Yes, I’ve never stopped being proud of many Americans (the troops, for example, who fight bravely in a war going nowhere). But it’s been quite a while since I’ve been proud of America – a place where for the past eight years it has been suggested without shame that wanting to bring the troops home from slaughter is an insult to their service. I could go on.

I have doubts today that Obama can do enough fast enough to land a second term. And I wonder how many of our current problems can be solved in just one. He seems doomed for failure in that respect. And yet, yes, I have hope. Hope that he can continue to unite this country as he just has (the recipient of more votes than any other president in our history). Trite as the allusion will seem, for many of us Obama is our Andy Dufresne in “The Shawshank Redemption.” For a while, we were starting to become “institutionalized” with cynicism and despair. Now we see a reason to believe.

For all the inspirational rhetoric of his victory speech last night, the thing that struck me most was his demeanor. His face was still. Except when he embraced his family, he hardly smiled. He looked determined. This wasn’t a man celebrating the end of a long journey. This was a man staring down the longer journey ahead.

I can believe in a man like that. Until there's reason not to, I do.

Anonymous said...

After last night, I don't know if I ever been prouder of my country. Before you jump on me, let me explain. I have always believed this is the greatest country, because of what it stands for and the dreams it represents for millions around the world. As Thomas Friedman said, Europe doesn't hate us. They just feel we have strayed away from those ideals we once stood for so proudly, over the last 8 years. They miss the old America, and they wish it would return. Judging by the reaction around the world to the election of Obama, it seems like those dreams have been re-born in the faces of the citizens of the world. They seem to love our new President, which is a stark contrast to their feelings about our current one.
The reason I don't think I have been prouder is not because I hate Bush or because I am in love with Obama. I have never been prouder, because of the huge step we just took. A step I wasn't sure I would see in my life time, and God willing, I still have many years ahead of me. If you asked me 3 years ago, whether we would elect an African American President in 2008, I would say you were crazy. 6 months ago, I still wouldn't believe it. I didn't think the country would accept it. I didn't think she was ready for one. By showing me she is ready, surprised me, and has made me proud that we've finally jumped that hurdle.
Who wasn't touched by the tears in the eyes of the African Americans you saw in the crowds last night. You can imagine what this moment meant to them, and being able, as a White man, to share in their joy, and understand what they must be feeling, moved me. I thought it was poinant that NBC spoke with John Lewis at the moment Obama was declared the winnner. For those who suffered during the Civil Rights movement, and those, like Lewis, who almost died, just for the right to vote, to witness the fruitation of their struggle 45 years later. What he must have been feeling.
Racism isn't dead in this country. I am under no such illusion, but this is a big step in the right direction. If the election of Obama can give hope to many people of color who are born into a world of hopelessness hope, then it's truly great thing. To paraphrase from The Shawshank Redemption, hopeless is a dangerous thing. I see the effects in our inner cities, and our poorer neighborhoods. Now with the election of Obama, maybe someone can dream a new dream, and realize there can be hope for them too. Maybe, they don't have to be destined for a dead end life. In 2008, if a man named Barrack Hussein Obama can become President, then there's no telling what anyone can be, regardless the circumstances or enviroment you're born into, as long as you can still dream. As the son of Clarence Page is now saying "Don't be like Mike. Be like Barrack".

Fox said...

I don't think it's wrong to believe in Obama, or to believe in politicians, but I have a hard time trusting any of them right now.

William Jefferson and Ted Stevens have the egos to run for Congress (and win!) again after being caught with their hands in our cookie jars. It's disgusting. And it's not emblematic of one party, they both stink.

I like the idea of "throw the bums out", but if a convicted felon (Stevens) can get elected, then will the people truly ever do that? Term limits on Senators and Congressman? I'm all for them now. I think it's the only way to clean up Washington.

Still. I like to think of Obama as a baseball team on opening day. In first place, no loses. He's got his shot now. We shall see what happens.

And no matter what happens, no matter when he does something that I don't like, he's still my president. I guess I am old fashioned that way. That means if/when Hugo Chavez says something demeaning to him (which, in my opinion he already did by calling him "the black man"), I will gladly go down to Venezuela and slap that fat toad in the face.

James Yates said...

Sorry, I know I'm a bit late posting on this.

I just enjoy the fact that there's new American pride, stemming from a proud moment: the election of an African-American to the highest office. It seems like the last time everyone banded together was in the weeks after 9/11. It's refreshing to have national pride in the face of happiness rather than disaster.