About a year ago, I was watching the Oprah Winfrey Show and I heard a man speak of hope and change. I became enamored by him. I loved his eloquent style of speech. He made sense. That hadn’t happened in a long time for me when it came to politics. I can’t be sure what about his style made me think of John F. Kennedy, but I did. I became interested in this man and made a point to research him because he had such an effect on me. Well, I didn’t do that. Life happened, people got sick in my family, I got sick, we lost two loved ones and well, researching was last on my list of things to do. But then the question that Oprah asked this man came into focus one day. He threw his hat into the Presidental ring. This man that had captivated me, had a good chance of becoming my President. Could it really be happening. My put-aside excitement had begun to grow once again. He gave me hope. I liked that.
Still no research. I was relying solely on news articles, TV interviews and the rest of what the world was saying. I knew I had time. But time has a way of escaping you and before I knew it, I was facing a primary. And I know soon I will be facing the big one; the historical election. I knew I would be a part of it and I knew I had to do my homework.
Voting is a privilege I respect too much to take for granted. When my daughter was younger, I always took her inside the voting booth, holding high the thick plastic gray cover to let her in and experience the voting process. Sure she was young and probably didn’t grasp the profoundness of a woman voting in an election. But I knew eventually with our conversations and from history taught in school, she would get it and I loved the image of that “aha” moment. I’ve always instilled in my daughter that Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day where not days to go shopping with or have that much craved for thick juicy sirloin burger. She knows all about Flag Day, Pearl Harbor Day and now sadly, she lived to see September 11th. I’m not sure if all our chats is what has led her to be a History major but it does my heart good to see her light up when she talks about how our country was born and then some.
I knew instantly that the election we were all facing in 2009 would be a great one because of the history it would become in books her children and my grandchildren would read one day. My dilema began. I never thought I’d live to see a woman running for President of the United States and I loved that idea. But I also knew that many did not and there was a very big chance that the past would become the present. I never thought I’d live to see a Black man run for President either. And I feared that many would knock this man down before he had a chance to make a real difference. I thought of all the women in politics and all the African American in politics and I thought, this shouldn’t be about race or sex, but sadly it is. I’m guilty of being one of those women excited that a woman just might run this country, pushing aside the real issues I should have thought about. But I’m allowed. I’m allowed to embrace even for a few moments the excitement of it all. Unfortunately we cannot run a country on excitement alone.
I loved being part of this history because I knew the long roads both candidates had traveled to get to this point. There was a time when I honestly felt, I didn’t care if Hilary won or Obama won, as long as one of them did, I would be happy. That’s just so irresponsible of me but I did say I was human. I’m allowed. I had to get serious and so did the rest of the country.
One week I was for Hilary and the following week Obama was the man. I didn’t sweat it though because that’s what campaigning and debates are all about; time to think and make the right choice for you and for your country. But for some reason this election became personal. I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s because I paid a bit more attention? Not that I didn’t in past elections and at the risk of sounding repetitious, this would be a historical election. I don’t know. I got caught up in the chats of so many around me and suddenly discussing politics and religion, a subject I stay clear from when with friends, became something I wanted to do. I wanted to hear every one’s opinion. I wanted to know more. I needed to. I don’t buy a pair of shoes before trying them on and this was a much more serious issue than shoe buying. I wanted to absorb it all.
I won’t bore you with all the things I learned in between because if you are reading this, you’ve learned them too. You’ve heard about Hilary’s past mistakes, her husband’s lies and you’ve heard about Michelle Obama saying she was proud of her country for the first time in her life. I know that a lot of times things get blown up and interpretations are made, assumptions turn into hysteria and well, in politics, your on top one day and the next day you are bird cage rug.
But today I got scared. I read about another man. A man Obama has gone to for guidance. A man that Obama has known for 20 years. A man that many are saying is anti-American. I read about Obama using the Koran when he was sworn into office and I read about how he does not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance when it’s said because God is mentioned. Oprah did you know this when you had him on your show? Did you know this when you held that fund raiser for him? Did you know this when you spoke up for him and gave him your support?
I didn’t like him because Oprah did but I paid attention because she did. I like Oprah. I like her spirituality. I pay attention when she speaks. I love her passion. I love that she uses who she is to help others. I love when she accepts responsibility for her mistakes and when she stands up for what she believes in. But I didn’t like Obama because Oprah did. But she started it.
I paid close attention. And then today I read that article. And I did a little research and I’m sitting here wondering, what’s true? What’s not? Will I be making a mistake in November by choosing a person that speaks of a change and of hope but listens to a preacher who hates America? Will I be making a mistake if I vote for Hilary given her past mistakes as well? The time for researching is over.. it’s time to pay attention.
Suddenly the history I was looking forward to being a part of doesn’t hold the same profoundness for me. But I haven’t lost hope. I can’t.
My country depends on it. My daughter depends on it. My daughter’s children does.