At my urging, Don, my partner, my best friend, the love of my life, and my favorite writer, has written a guest blog:
Barack Hussein Obama is the President-Elect of the United States of America. He is a black man.
The next First Lady – a politically incorrect title if there ever was one – will be Michelle Robinson Obama, a Princeton University and Harvard Law School graduate, with credentials that rival her husband’s. For those who use income to measure success, she brings home more bacon than Barack. She is an accomplished lawyer and scholar, and once worked for Chicago mayor Richard Daley and later for the University of Chicago Medial Center. She is black.
The two are proud parents of two black children, Malia and Natasha (nick-named Sasha) who are 10 and 7 years old, respectively. They will roam the halls of the white house just as John-John and Carolyn did during the brief days of Camelot. I will bet that they will have a lot of fun doing so, and I will bet that the nation will enjoy the People Magazine excerpts regarding their hijinks alongside their as-yet-to-be-named puppy.
Have I mentioned that they are all black?
The first time Diane asked me to guest blog, she was all wrapped up in the Clinton campaign, and I was pulling for the underdog, Obama. I mentioned at the time how proud I was of my alma matter state of Iowa (where I lived for ten years, much to my surprise) a state of pasty-white farmers and close-knit conservatives, and how they decided that Obama was the person they wanted to lead the country in the next go-‘round. This was a quantum leap if there ever was one. Please understand that, with the exception of Iowa City and its university culture, there is little if any diversity in Iowa. People who are there are white, Christian, they were born there, they will die there. And in the Iowa Caucus, they said Yes, We Can. They set a juggernaut in motion, and it could not have been originated from a more unlikely place.
That was when I knew. That was when I absolutely knew that this guy, this big-eared, inexperienced, unlikely winner had a real chance.
Okay, forget Iowa. A microscopic anecdotal incident fell unto my lap in the form of Diane’s mother, Rosemary. A life-long Republican, Rosemary and I shared profound regret for a drunken argument we got into one Summer night, in which I questioned Ronald Reagan’s abilities, and she scoured me with the passion of a thousand suns.
We later made up. But I vowed to never speak with her about politics again – booze or not, it was an unsafe subject.
But things changed.
Fast forward a couple of years to when I was with her when Obama made his 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention. Rosemary lit up with an energy I had not before seen, and said, over and over again “I LIKE that Barack Obama!”. Juxtaposed with this was the death count from the Iraq war, which we also watched ratcheting onward each Sunday Morning on “Stephanopoulos”, as she called it. George would read out the names released by the Pentagon, and Rosemary would mourn each one.
“Oh, he was just 20.”
“Dear God, he was just 22.”
The war in Iraq, Rosemary believed, could be blamed solely upon George W. Bush, and she hated him for it. The feelings were so strong that it, eventually, severed here life-long ties to the Republican party.
And, long story short, she died hoping against hope that Barack Obama would become the next President of the United States.
Hey, Rosemary: Yes We Can!
I, today, remain in a state of disbelief. Like a victim of tragedy who can’t yet find a way to mourn, I cannot yet grasp the amazing awesomeness of what we did on November 4, 2008. I read the news, I see the pictures, I imagine the wonderful Obama family moving into the White House, but I cannot yet feel the elation of triumph.
I recall when W. was re-elected and how it made me feel that I was no longer a part of America. I recall the subsequent years, when torture became policy, when spying on Americans became commonplace, when moving through an airport became horrific, when we became the terrorists and told the rest of the world that they were inferior to our manifest destiny. I remembered how happy I was that my life had led me to residence in Canada.
And now, it would seem, we are on the road to an absolute, 180-degree change. It seems that common sense has somehow woken from a Van Winklian slumber and that we have not only a chance to reclaim past virtues but to move forward and grow.
It seems – and this sounds so silly to say aloud – that we might actually have a chance to be proud of being an American again.
When we arrived here, we raped the natives and imported slaves. Our leaders — George and Thomas and whomever – exploited all they could to find their own prosperity. And so it went for many, many years.
Now, after 43 attempts by white guys to get it right, (and in which we find ourselves in two wars, in a near-depression, unable to provide health care to our people, unable to assure the “American Dream” to anyone, etc.) we have a 44th who promises change.
I think he’ll deliver it. I think we are ready.
I just hope that someday soon that I can really believe it is coming true.