Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shock and Awe

Another election has come and gone, this one as hotly contested and explosive as the last two. The dust has settled and a winner has been chosen. I have to admit that while I have been a staunch supporter of Obama (and I am in absolute giddy, ecstatic, joyful shock at his win and the resolve of the American people to set aside race and focus on the issues), my respect for McCain grew after reading the transcript of his concession speech. He could have cursed the ground Obama walks on and belittled his fellow candidate while instructing his followers to rise up in disrespect, but instead, he choose the high road and reiterated the message that really matters: the people of the United States absolutely need to stick together.

We need to do two things in order to stick together, and both of them involve recognition. The Democrats need to recognize that the Republicans are smarting right now, and in their wounded pride and fallen hopes, they are going to need some time to come around; the Republicans, on the other hand, need to recognize this defeat graciously and accept that change is coming. No more name-calling and whining on either side; it's time to be grown-ups and fix the sandbox, or else the coming generations will have nothing. Remember when you were a kid and your teacher made you work with a classmate you couldn't stand? You still didn't care for that person after the project was over, but the job was completed because you put aside your differences, worked together and focused on what had to be done. This is the same thing. We can have our own values and personal likes and dislikes, but we need to work together or else everything will fall apart.

What do we need to fix? The economy. Our schools. The alarmingly high numbers of children being abused and then placed into a highly and dangerously flawed foster care system. Our healthcare system. The crime rate. Energy alternatives. Religious tolerance. Civil rights, including the rights of minorities, gays and women. Immigration. Personal freedom, including the right to privacy on all levels, bodily and externally. Middle Eastern wars. The sheer amount of lying that our officials get away with. This list is general for a reason. We need to list out what's wrong, find the cause, then fix the cause; no more of this mud-slinging, tunnel-visioned focus on what's wrong. Treating the symptom is not working; we need to go after the root cause itself. We have to accept that this might cost us in the short term. Frankly, wouldn't you rather have one expensive bill than multiple smaller ones that wind up costing you more money in the long run? It's the same principle of fixing a car... except that this is an entire nation. Given, it's a much larger scale, but the principle is the same. Either way, we have cut out all of the partisan crap and start viewing each other as equal human beings, or else we will never get out of the mess we're in.

These things are easy for me to say because the candidate I supported won. The previous election, I was upset and shocked that Bush won another turn. It would be incredibly easy for me right now to jump up and yell, "SUCK IT, REPUBLICANS -- YOU HAD YOUR EIGHT YEARS, NOW IT'S OUR TURN!" However, I'm not -- nothing can be gained by that except for further divide in a time when we need unity. There is so much beauty in this election: we had record turnout for voters; we have the first black president-elect; this is the first president in a long time that has come from extremely humble roots -- a single mother, a biracial family, a lack of old money -- that has used his drive and determination to advance. This is the American Dream. People need that. We need a representative that can speak eloquently, that knows the issues and listens to his supporters and opponents alike. We've already met half of a very tall order -- we got people to care this time around. People came out and voted because they wanted to be heard, and they got involved very passionately. Things can only go up from here on out.

Some folks are disappointed that Palin missed her chance to become the first female vice president, and possibly the first female president; some were upset that Hilary was passed over. I understand the plight of women under the glass ceiling. Years from now, we ARE going to get a female president, and when she's elected, she's going to get to serve in the White House because she is the best damn candidate out there. It's not about getting any woman in office; it's getting the right one in office. We will get her, I promise. When she takes oath, she won't be viewed merely as the historical first female president.

I can only hope that some can view Barack Obama the way that I do: he is the best man for the job. If you don't like him strictly because he's black or because he's a democrat, that is something you're going to have to come to terms with. However, if that's not your issue with him, please take a moment to focus on the positives. We've got him for at least four years, and unless if he does something incredibly heinous to get himself thrown out of office (although, I don't see that happening -- exhibit A, George W. Bush), he's not going anywhere. Listen to what he has to say -- give him your input. Let's usher in a period of American history where the people communicate with the leaders to get their needs fulfilled. Try seeing the world from someone else's point of view. Focus on the positive; foster hope. I have hope in abundance; you can have some of mine. And in the words of Walt Disney, keep moving forward.

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