“What an awesome night for you,” President George W. Bush to President Elect Barack Obama, November 4, 2008
I grew up in America. In Columbus, Ohio, which I think would even qualify as real America in Sarah Palin’s eyes. In Kindergarten I didn’t really speak English and I was, for my entire time there, one of the only brown people in the community. However, I never felt racially left out and when we studied the Constitution and the history of America I never felt like it left out someone like me. And apparently it doesn’t. I still remember the pause in the roll call when new teachers got to my long and odd name. But now Barack Hussein Obama is President. It didn’t matter then and, after an 8 year nightmare, it doesn’t matter now.
I’m in Sri Lanka now. I see my future here or, more accurately, based here. There is an awful lot more cleaning up and, shall we say, infrastructure work that I thought there would ever be. But what it is. We are enduring our own George W. Bush, inarticulate, casually racist, surrounded by sordid men and dirty deeds, shredding the Constitution and burning money like so much paper. I fear that it will be 10 more years unless we find our Obama soon, and this political culture does not breed such.
However, for the first time in a long time, we have some adult leadership in the world that says explaining policy (as complex and boring as it is) is more important than marketing it. That achieving security is more than just posturing, and that torture and suspension of law does not substitute for intelligence. That rural people are cool, but city people are cool too, and no less patriotic. And any number of things which seemed blindingly obvious to me as a child but which have had no play in this tragic century.
But, inshallah, I do believe in this man and I do have great hope for the future now. I, personally, feel like perhaps it’s possible to get ahead without being an asshole, and I’m making some effort to restrain myself. That it is possible to actually be calm and state points and listen and that some change will come of it. Because it has.
I watched the election at home with my mother, the only person I know that voted. Her absentee ballot is above. Afterwards I drove my Achi around to the bayth kade to get her and Seeya the weird ayurvedic oils that older engines require. Sat around shyly thumbing my Blackjack while she chatted on with the bayth kadette about her grandchildren and various ailments.
Came home to change for work and a very old man was tottering about in the sun, asking for money for some medical condition. I usually don’t, never do, but I though what would Barack Obama do, and I gave him all the money in my wallet. I don’t even think that’s what he would do, I don’t know, but I personally do want to do better. I mean, I can.
Went to see the kids later, showed them a picture and tried to get them to say ‘Obama’. It doesn’t compute yet, comes out ‘Mama’ or ‘Bama’. By the time they grow up perhaps it’ll be granted. I mean, the next feasible Republican candidate is Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American (as in Desi). But for today, man, it’s just so mind blowing. Not his race, but the fact that it is now so self evident that all men are created equal. Just self-evident.
It’s been a long election, and I’m hoping to believe, that the next years will be better than the last.