It’s election night in the United States, and the world is holding its breath to see if Barak Obama will maintain his seat on the throne of the world for another four years, or if Mitt Romney will usurp him as head of the free world.
Mitt. Damn. I hate that name.
But anyway, I digress.
Four years ago, I watched the election results unfolding with excitement while sitting on a friend’s couch, as Obama rode his “Yes We Can!” magic carpet all the way to the White House, with no real opposition. While results are still coming in, I feel fairly confident that Obama will ride that carpet back to the White House, though he may be holding on to the tassels this time around.
In 2008, it was heart-stopping to think that a black man could be President of the United States. The excitement around that possibility was palpable. After Obama won, a downtown movie theatre showed his inaugural address to those of us who lined up in the cold to watch. Even in Toronto the feeling was electric. My favourite line from that speech was one he addressed to those opposing forces in the world: We will extend our hand, if you will unclench your fist.
And now it’s four years later. Another election, another couch, another spark of hope for the future. But maybe not quite as bright a spark as the last time around. The economy in the States is still a mess, family and national debt is mounting, and unemployment remains higher than everyone is comfortable with. In all this, hope is slowly being displaced by desperation.
Even though this isn’t my country, it is the country that has the most direct effect on what happens in Canada. That gives me a vested interest in what happens south of the border, and I remain hopeful.
I remain hopeful because even though he didn’t do everything he said he would, I truly believe Barak Obama spent the last four years doing his best.
I remain hopeful because he repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, a policy so revolting and unconscionable that its time on the books will certainly go down as a blight on the country that instated it in the first place.
I remain hopeful because Obama finally finally finally came out in support of gay marriage, throwing his support behind the love and lives of all the citizens of his country.
I remain hopeful because even though his opponents tried to stop him at every turn, Obama pushed forward with an agenda that would ensure health care for every citizen in the country. It seems baffling to me that this should have been a bold move, rather than an obvious one. But bold it was. And he did it.
I remain hopeful because even though she didn’t win the nomination, Hilary Clinton came awfully close last time. A strong, independent, assertive woman. I do believe we will see a woman sitting on that throne before the end of my life. Maybe even more than one.
I remain hopeful because as Barak Obama lit a spark at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that grew into a fire that led him to victory, I saw a new spark lit at the DNC this year when Julian Castro spoke with passion and engagement to a crowd that went wild. He gave me hope that there are still good politicians coming through the ranks – people that will invigorate new generations of voters in the years to come.
But mostly, I remain hopeful because I have to. Without hope, without optimism, what’s left? A life of resignation. A life of inevitable disappointment. A life of long sighs and downcast eyes and waiting for the next axe to fall. I don’t want that to be the world I live in. I don’t want that to be the world my daughter lives in. So I remain hopeful. No matter what happens.