Thursday, November 6, 2008

Exhuberance: Obama is thy name

Yesterday, I received possibly the best birthday present ever, the election of Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States of America.

I witnessed John McCain, seemingly returning to his previous centrist self, give the best speech of his bid for election, which ironically came in the form of concession.

Immediately, I headed to the Chase Park Plaza for the victory celebration, and the change that was promised was more immediate than I had anticipated. On one of St. Louis' hip hop stations, the DJ was freestyling about Obama.

"WE GOT A BLACK PRESIDENT!" was the first thing we heard, followed by, "McCain didn't even break 200 (electoral college votes)."

Never have heard so much excitement about an election on a rap radio station. In fact, the only mention I've ever heard of rap and politics in the mainstream is the good old 'Buck Fush'.

We arrived at the Chase Park Plaza jumping up and down with excitement. The place was packed with all sorts of people, from students to the elderly, all shades and creeds of people, hugging each other, dancing, crying...it was as if we had just won a war and in some ways, we had.

As Obama gave his acceptance speech, it was clear, just by the feeling that swept the room, that something had fundamentally changed. Suddenly, this mishmash of peoples with very ostensibly very little in common were sharing a deep bond of hope, a sense of belonging, community, and feeling of enfranchisement as citizens, as Americans.

In a very big way, the victory of Barack Obama represents a major victory in the philosophical war between an older generation fueled by fear, and a younger generation, mobilized by hope.

Zuz mentioned that no one believed Obama would actually get college kids and African Americans to vote.

Obama succeeded in this endeavor because behind a bold message of hope, reconciliation, and pragmatism there was a disciplined organization that lived the values it embodied.

Everyone that I spoke with who canvassed or made phone calls remarked on how amazing it was to go out and meet and engage their neighbors in the political process.

There is a name for this type of organizational work, it's called community organizing. Yes, the same community organizing that Palin tried to insult.
This community organizing and community building is what set Obama apart, and has the potential to be truly transformational.

Here lies the difference between socialism and capitalism within a socially minded populace. In socialism, the populace is forced to redistribute wealth and power.
Capitalism within a socially minded populace is where people take care of their neighbors because they know their neighbors and see them as fellow citizens.

Is this not the America we so desire, in which we feel connected to our fellow citizens? Where we happily make coffee, tea, and baked goods for those waiting hours in line to vote, as Maya Escobar did on the Loop in University City. Where we congratulate each other for a truly collaborative effort in electing the first non-Caucasian leader of a majority Caucasian nation EVER.

Perhaps these symbolic victories won't bring the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 6000 points overnight. Neither will they ease up the credit market. But what if this victory inspires students to aspire to greater heights? What if those who hold ambivalence (at best) towards us begin to feel that we will deal justly with them, and hold ourselves to the standards to which we have long held them.

The significance of these symbolic victories is not lost on me.

4 comments:

Benny said...

Wow, just wow. Best blog ever

Anonymous said...

Right on!!! (and very well written)

Anonymous said...

You wrote:
"Here lies the difference between socialism and capitalism within a socially minded populace. In socialism, the populace is forced to redistribute wealth and power.
Capitalism within a socially minded populace is where people take care of their neighbors because they know their neighbors and see them as fellow citizens."

This is great stuff. Are you suggesting then that President-elect Obama will not by law force anyone to redistribute their wealth, but that he will allow us to voluntarily share our bounty with others as we see fit. If that is what Obama is going to do, if that is what he meant by "redistribution of wealth" then you are right, that isn't socialism at all. However if laws must be passed by the State so as to force people to give up their wealth and/or possessions to others, then that is socialism, and not capitalism.

But be honest, you don't really expect that to happen, do you??? You don't really expect President Obama to leave that up to us?

Anonymous said...

Well said, Yoni!! Greetings from home - BLUE Cincinnati, Ohio!! --Rachel Crossley Saphire