Friday, November 21, 2008

What it means: Part 9

So here it is: my final post on what I feel is the far-reaching significance of the Barack Obama victory.

Yes, I know this has been boring as all hell; but I have to confess it’s been very important for me to think this through along various lines for selfish reasons. I was stupefied by this outcome. I worried about what I felt was my own lack of understanding of this moment in history. I frankly felt kind of dumb, as if I didn’t understand what had just happened. I had no such confusion when George W. Bush took office, -one look at him and I knew it was going to be bad, bad, bad news for all of us. I just didn’t foresee eight years of his blank smiling face waving to cameras from Air Force 1.

I now realize, only through writing about it here on this blog, that I was dumbstruck by the scope and by the consequences of this change in administration and the apparent transformation that happened in America as I cynically walked around thinking that people in America would never actually vote for a Black candidate, no matter what was going wrong with the economy, no matter how bad the wars were going.

I was wrong.

I overlooked that potential in our country that has always asserted itself when we got too close to the brink. My thanks again to Michael Hew, who is the founder of this blog network, and who indulged and encouraged me to run my mouth this year. I hope he doesn’t regret it too much since I don’t seem to be able to politely stop.

The end of the Bush administration and the birth of the Obama administration means so many things to us here in the United States and also surprisingly to the world, judging by all the celebrating that’s still going on today. I tried in 9 innings to express the different ways that the Barack Obama victory represents a unique historical moment in our consciousness beyond the obvious barriers broken. I don’t think I succeeded, but I did manage to give form to some cloudy notions, hopes, fears, suspicions and embarrassing prejudices of my own. For me, the election of Barack Obama represents possibilities too numerous to mention and too nuanced to simply list. Much of his presidency’s significance is yet to come and as Yogi Berra once said:

The future ain’t what it used to be

…and I’m real happy about that, but my thoughts turn to other people in my life when I think of what might be possible now. I think of my friends and their kids. It’s weird running into people I haven’t seen since Barack Obama won.

It’s like knowing someone from another life.

Calling Beth Block my friend isn’t entirely appropriate, she was more than that. I met Beth in the early 1980s at a private school on the upper west side. We were “bad kids” together and we were smart. We had all the kinds of stupid, secret, destructive fun that seems romantic after you turn 30. My first packs of cigarettes, sneaking into bars… my sweet young life. She was there for all of it.
Beth was one of those people that everybody greedily kept as their own over the years. She wasn’t somebody you lost touch with. She kept everybody young. She’s one of those people everyone needs in their life. She died suddenly this year in a car accident in Washington back in April. I think about her a lot these days, with all that’s happened.
Beth was an extraordinarily perceptive and tough-minded girl from Texas, from New York, from Japan, from LA and from all the other places that she made hers. Every month, I find some new thing I would’ve liked to have talked with her about.

I wish so very badly that Beth had lived to see Barack Obama, Joe Biden and the voters take the country back. I wish she'd seen the crowds in Chicago and New York, among other things.



Michael Hew said...

Fantastic series of articles. I wish I had something to add, but I think you've said all I could have thought to say. Thanks for putting everything into perspective. Once again, you proved why most people probably view this blog as SJ and that other guy.

SJ said...

Actually I didn't say a thing about the possible future makeup of the Supreme Court under Obama, and then there's that matter of what his election victory does for our chances for admittance to the Federation of Planets.

It's been a hell of a year hasn't it?

Thanks again for the invitation. It's meant a lot to me. I'm trying to hold to the high standards you've set for this blog and it hasn't been easy for me, what with my propensity for cursing.
See you after Thanksgiving.

Jack Jodell said...

Thank you for this very thoughtful series! I too am delightedly shocked at Obama's triumph, and I too have had a belly full of GOP lies and crazy people like Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin et al. So much so that I've been slamming these conservative blowhards quite regularly in my own weekly blog ( I truly believe that Barack Obama has the potential to go down in history as a tremendously positive and influential world leader and perhaps our very greatest President ever. Time and circumstance will tell, but he certainly has the imtelligence, vision, and common sense to do the job. He is a truly remarkable man, and the next 4-8 years should prove very transformational and interesting!

SJ said...

Thanks for the kind words Jack. btw -there was a very good interview with Russ Feingold on Bill Moyers Journal on Friday, the transcript is here:
Russ Feingold might be the only politician I can think of who has put the people's interests first, -every single time.
I'll be subscribing to your blog; I read your posts through October and I have to commend you on your excellent writing but also for pushing people toward, something I with I had remembered to do.
Thanks for reading our blog.