The first time I heard Barack Obama speak, I was moved to tears. I don’t even remember what he said (but thanks to YouTube, it’s there for review). It was February, 2007 - more than a year before the election even happened - when he announced his first candidacy. My mind couldn’t have been farther from thinking about US politics, much less who might be running for president. But something about that voice made my ears perk up and listen, and I liked what I heard. Listening to Obama’s final campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, right now (also thanks to YouTube, a day later) I’m getting teared up again. I’m laughing, I’m crying, I’m proud and I’m completely smitten. He’s off the cuff and spontaneous; he’s connected with his audience; he’s tired and his hair has turned gray; he’s hoarse. But even through all that, he moves me. He is sincere. He is genuine. I am a singer, I hear it in his voice.
Obama may not have accomplished all he set out to do yet, nor could the best of wizards have done so, given the circumstances and time frame. I am not one to be very critical, and I’ll admit to being even uninformed at times. Now that I have been paying attention, however, and looking at this administration with a more scrupulous eye, I do not approve of all that has gone on. I’m guilty as charged of basing my support on an instinct. Even after corroborating that instinct with some facts (variable, depending on where you look), I tend to turn the other cheek when I read about drone strikes, failure to rescind the Patriot Act or close Guantanamo (although I believe he will eventually).
So our president hasn’t been perfect, but I also do not approve of how we have been behaving. Like I said, we have been swayed by our emotions. We have also been selfish, near-sighted and easily fooled. Most people I know voting for Romney stated economics as their reason (even though The Economist has endorsed Obama), and I spat civil rights back in their faces. How could you? Then I state civil rights as one of my reasons for voting for Obama, and they come back at me with a drone strike. Ka-fuckin’-boom.
If this election has shown me anything, it’s that the two most popular candidates, in performing the job they’re auditioning for (so to speak - I’m a singer, I hear it in their voices), would be more alike than we may think. And that we are more different than perhaps I thought before. Either way the election goes (too early to call at the time of writing), I predict things like drone strikes, Patriot Acts and the like, and the economy (yes, the economy) will stay the same. Also unchanging are the terrible attitudes of some Americans who have not even considered the aforementioned issues, and simply cannot bring themselves to vote for a black man. Or those who think same sex marriage or the right to choose should be something we decide for others, even though it would have no effect on us whatsoever.
Right now, watching the results of the exit polls come trickling in, the margin is very narrow. I’m not even going to go so far as claiming that Romney and Ryan themselves would carry out their putative sexist, homophobic policies if elected, and maybe they would even do an okay job with the rest, but I shudder to think that the office of the president could be handed over to them because their supporters base their votes on ignorance and lack of love. Here’s hoping that the next tears I shed over this election will be tears of pride for my president, and not of heartbreak because of my fellow Americans.