This has been an incredible week! In Portland, within a half and hour after the polls closed on Tuesday, voters began loudly celebrating the election of Barak Obama. As a 42 year old woman, I can say that I have never seen an election night like this. With cars honking, people screaming, and assorted fireworks here and there--- it was livelier than any New Year's eves I can remember (indeed, livelier than most 4th of Julys-- possible exception of The Bicentennial), too. The relief and joy felt by so many in this country was palpable. I know that I, for one, am very happy that for the first time in 8 years, we will have a leader that can not only speak in full sentences, but that he does so most eloquently, and in a tone that sounds strong, open and welcoming-- which is a blessed change from the disjointed sneering phrases of W.
Obama ran on the idea of Hope and Change. He spoke of a new America that honored fairness. Our challenge is to now build on that momentum to actually craft what that change looks like, and to push like hell in that direction. This can be a truly profound transformation, if, and only if, we take this opportunity to coalesce a broad based grass roots movement. We must bring together a groundswell of support, not for any particular candidate, but to address the issue of economic justice at home--- calling for an immediate reversal of the massive redistribution wealth that has been ongoing since Reagan, and has accelerated dangerously in the last month. We must reinvigorate a movement that demands peace and diplomacy in our foreign policy, not endless wars propagated with a might-makes-right mentality. We must come together to loudly demand environmental sustainability, not as a green washing campaign, but as deep we take up the challenge of essentially changing our country's relationship to resource exploitation, and thinking ahead for about our impact on generations to come. It is imperative that we work together to demand the restoration of our constitutional rights-- ending spying on activists, and the demonization of dissent; to put an end to torture and to bring back a healthy habeas corpus; and there is so much more. As Norman Solomon notes in his article, A Mandate for Spreading the Wealth:
Obama and his activist base won a mandate for strong government action on behalf of economic fairness. But since election night, countless pundits and politicians have somberly warned the president-elect to govern from "the center." Presumably, such governance would preclude doing much to spread the wealth. Before that sort of conventional wisdom further hardens like political cement, national discussions should highlight options for moving toward a more egalitarian society.
I was not a big Obama supporter-- I can't turn a blind eye to the fact that he wants to continue our war in Afghanistan, and talks of "clean coal". I felt that the McKinney / Clemente ticket most represented my concerns, and had good plans to address them. Indeed, this is the first time I have ever convinced myself to vote not my conscience, but to choose based on my fear of the worser evil (I admit it, the thought of a Palin theocracy scared the bejeebus out of me). I have huge concern about his statements regarding adding heat to the fighting in Afghanistan, if he does this, I will be complicit in that murderous act (along with the rest of you that voted for him), so let's act now, together, and quickly, while this opening exists to push, push, PUSH Obama to take right action. Let's become to hard to ignore. This is where we begin to do the hard work of holding this new administration accountable to usher in the changes we want to see.
I am still adjusting to the idea of a country without W. Given how bad things have gotten, it will take a bit to remember what it was like to live in a country where dissent is an expected by-product of our democratic process in a "free" and diverse land, as opposed to being subjected to "If your not fer us, your agin us," tough guy talk. May this country not fall back into cynicism and apathy, because while Obama might not have all of the answers himself, working together in solidarity, we can supply him with some. And through our continued involvement, we will demand right action to move our country in a good direction. It's just that it will take all of us working together to be heard over corporate interests, and over some of his appointments (excuse me what? %?!?!*&$ Rahm Emanuel?!?!?!?).
This is the opening that many have been waiting for. Let's jump on through, together.