A Realization of Hope

Taylor, Nora

I received this message on Wednesday morning from my friend who lives in France: “Hi all, just wanted to let you all know how happy we all are over here in Europe. We didn’t think it possible. It would seem that change has come and we are all so very lucky to be alive to be a part of it. Good day to you all.”
Is it possible? Did we really help change the world’s opinion of us in a single night?
Why yes, I believe we did. For the Obama supporters I know, Tuesday was a night of incredible personal triumph. After canvassing, calling and wearing the same t-shirt three days in a row, a lot of the Lawrence campus felt that they had a very personal stake in this election.
And they did. Barack Obama’s election as the next President of the United States has delivered many a message to US citizens and to the world, but one of the most important is that the youth vote matters.
For most of us, we came to political maturity during the Bush years, where not only did the youth vote not seem to matter, neither did the black vote, the old vote, etc. etc. This election saw young people become not only involved in the political process, but also invigorated by it. Perhaps we haven’t been apathetic the past eight years; just, dare we say, hopeless.
One can only imagine how rocked our parents’ worlds were on Tuesday. For most of them, this night seemed next to impossible. Many of them remember the tumult of the civil rights movement and the women’s liberation movement and their devastation at the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. We’ve been through eight years of secrecy and uncertainty while they’ve had decades of disappointment and poignant triumph.
Which leads me to John McCain. Kudos to him for an eloquent and beautifully delivered speech. He was gracious in a moment when most of us would be just the opposite. He seemed sad, yes, but a little relieved.
Hopefully he can go back to the old John McCain. He was clearly never comfortable in attack mode, or the slow movement away from his “maverick” ideology. There was a time when he did deserve that oft used nickname. He’s like that Indie rock musician who gets signed to a major label, releases an album that sucks, and goes back to his roots to much acclaim.
America — as in the “you and me” America — is making a huge comeback, bailing out the economy, volunteering our time to pick up where the government has left off and uniting from the bottom up when the top is trying to split us up. There is a lot of pressure on the democrats not only to make good on what they promised their constituents, but also to honestly reach across the aisle and show that country first is a nonpartisan ideal.
I heard my father cry for the first time on Tuesday. For some reason or another, he is reticent to talk about the civil rights movement, and I didn’t find out until last year that he marched with King in Cicero, so I was more than surprised when he simply said, “This is all I’ve worked for.” And it is.
But our work is not done. Think about the issues that got you fired up during the campaign and keep working to help achieve whatever ends it is that you’re looking for. We can’t afford to just get excited every four years. But for now, I think it’s okay to take a step back and admire the great job we’ve done.