Where Were You?
7 months ago
Will you ever forget the moment President Obama was reelected?
History is littered with terrible “Where were you?” moments: There’s the moment you found out Tupac had been shot (in my room, listening to my boom box), when you watched O.J. flee the police in a white Bronco (in my auntie’s front room), and, of course, when the first tower was hit on 9/11 (in my dorm room at Howard University, getting ready for class). But we don’t get many positive ones.
So when, at 11:12 p.m. on Tuesday night, MSNBC called the election for my president, I was beside myself, much as I was four years ago. This time, I was blessed to share it with my 16-month-old daughter, who, like her mother, was too wound up to sleep.
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It wasn’t just that the guy I was rooting for won, or that the other guy lost. It’s the fact that, despite having voted in every presidential election since 2000, this president is the first one I’ve ever felt was mine. And it’s not, contrary to what conservatives will have you think, because of his skin color. Sure, I love that he’s black; I’d be a liar if I said any different. But the deeper truth of it is, I appreciate the significance of his ascendency in a country where, in my father’s lifetime, people who looked like us where unable to exercise the rights granted to them by the 15th Amendment.
The real reason I was screaming like a maniac is that I knew President Barack Obama would continue to fight for everyone, even those who were angriest about his reelection. There would be no 47 percent left to fend for itself, no class warfare waged to shut out those who didn’t support his candidacy. When he said, during his acceptance speech, “We are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people,” I felt it keenly. Whether or not you think of yourself as patriotic, it’s hard to argue with that notion when you only have to look around to see the impact of the recession.
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That feeling of solidarity is the root of why I didn’t vote for He Who Must Not Be Named. To me, he represented an idea that’s scarier than any tax cut or global warming denial. It’s the notion that self-interest is everything, that taking care of each other is a bad thing, and taking away the rights of others is the American way (even if history shows us that it is).
While I’m realistic in my view of what the president can accomplish with a divided Congress and views that don’t always mesh exactly with mine (thumbs down on drilling and drones), I’m hopeful that we’ll be better off in 2016 than we are today. And as big a deal as this week’s win was to me, I hope that when I remind my daughter where she was during that moment one day, it will be old hat her. As a toddler, she has only lived in a world where it’s not just possible for a black man to run the show, but a reality, and that’s the very best thing of all.
Where were YOU when Barack Obama was reelected? How do you feel? Tell us in the comments.