Monday, January 19, 2009

Yes We Did

Tomorrow, the United States will have a new president.

On that chilly day in Illinois in February, 2007, when he officially announced his presidential campaign, Barack Obama looked like such an unlikely candidate. A young man, an African-American man, with a funny name, running for a presidential nomination against a former vice presidential candidate and a former First Lady? No way he could ever get elected, right?

And yet, when I turned off the cynical voices in my head, and listened to my heart, I believed he could. So many people, even then, believed he could.

My belief in Barack Obama's ability to do the once impossible sent me to the Missouri State Democratic Convention as an Obama delegate, where I proudly represented the primary votes of members in my community who also believed he could win.

My belief sent me to the Democratic National Convention with a press pass, where I sat in the stands at Invesco Field with 84,000 other people who also believed that tomorrow's events could come. And it was there that I finally, fully realized just how much the power of the movement to elect Obama lay, not in the man himself, but in the hands, hearts and minds and walking feet of the ordinary people behind it.

That realization kept me focused during my hours as a volunteer Neighborhood Team Leader at my local Obama office.

And whenever I felt my newfound conviction in the ability of ordinary people do to extraordinary things start to waver when faced with the forces of apathy, disillusionment, and stubborn opposition to the forces of change, I would meet an Obama supporter or volunteer whose personal committment so impressed me that I felt compelled to continue believing our work to change our country could succeed.

People like my fellow Neighborhood Team Leader, Sara, who approached canvassing with the same determination she mustered to run marathons; people like a field organizer named Alex, just out of college, working his first "real" job as a community leader, who came in to a struggling neighborhood office in a working class town, and turned into an organized Get-Out-the-Vote machine in a matter of days. People like the man with two prosthetic legs who joined my canvass team, and walked more streets than half of my other canvassers. People like the former die-hard Hillary Clinton supporter who volunteered to take charge of canvassers and voter-protection crews in one of the least-staffed, most challenging neighborhoods in the St. Louis metro on Election Day.

It was these people who really won on November 4th.

And I trust them, all of them, to continue working, in ways large and small, to make the country they love a better place, no matter what happens after tomorrow.

Congratulations to tomorrow's President, Barack Obama, and to all of the ordinary people who paved his way to the White House by being willing to dream an impossible dream.

1 comment:

Jeannette E. Spaghetti said...

Jaelithe, you are awesome times ten!!!