It’s not a secret nor a surprise that during this Presidential election my vote went for Barack Obama. And for the first time, out of three Presidential elections, I actually voted for the winner. Unless, of course, you count my first attempt at electing a president in 2000, when Al Gore actually won. But that’s neither here nor there. And I am thrilled, ecstatic, overjoyed that Obama won. I’m glad I’ve been in the U.S. to witness all the madness. I think it’s crucial, whether you supported McCain or Obama or Barr or Joe the Plumber, to recognize the historic importance of an African-American president. I’m anxious to see what changes will occur and how they will affect our lives. But all my pleasure is tempered by the pain of reality. Reality and the tiny red wine hangover I’m feeling from all the jubilation.
Reality that shows that 52% of Californians are willing to pass a proposal that amends their state constitution to ban gay marriage. And in Kern County specifically, 75% of people voted against having equal rights for homosexual couples. And while it’s always a foregone conclusion that California will vote decidedly liberal in terms of presidential elections, there isn’t, apparently, enough tolerance or open mindedness to live and let live. If you, your church, or your family find homosexuality to be immoral or against the law of your chosen god, I can respect your decision while vehemently disagreeing. If you believe that your god, your church, your family has the right to take away rights of others, you are a bigot. If god were real, she wouldn’t have time for such hateful endeavors, she would believe in and nurture love in all it’s forms. If your church were any kind of respectful institution, it would preach non-judgement and respect the supposed separation of church and state. If everyone in your family felt safe and unconditionally loved, they would be honest enough to reveal that there is probably at least one person who falls into a category of someone you would not accept in your life. Voting against equality for homosexuals in 2008 is not different than voting against equality for racial minorities in 1968. You’re kidding yourself if you believe differently.
Reality revealed that racism, while clearly morphing into a less sizable monster, still exists. Not just in old people or backwater Alabama. One of my good friends came over to celebrate the Obama victory with us, and received a text message from a friend that not only made a terrible attempt at jesting about assassination, but also used a straight up racial slur that made everyone in the room gasp. The fact that someone of our generation would see humor in that makes me realize just how base and stupid some of us are. I love humor in many forms, but hate and racism isn’t one of them. The fact that someone of our generation would be pleased with themselves for spreading such a joke to their loved ones tells me that too many people let offensive comments/jokes/remarks pass by them without speaking up. My friend, of course, is not one of those people, and when she expressed her displeasure her friend simply replied that this was typical of her, being so liberal and all. Liberal, conservative, tree-hugger, war-monger. If we can’t get over the disgusting racism of our shameful past, we will never truly move forward. If you think racist/sexist/bigoted jokes are harmless and in good fun, you are painfully ignorant about the power that words have on what is deemed acceptable by society. Plus, you’re an asshole.
Reality is that cynicism is now en vogue. “Sure, Obama’s president, but nothing is ever really going to change.” Have things changed since 1999? Sure they have. Even Republicans agree that most of those changes have been for the worse. So why is it so silly and trite to believe that things can change for the better? Why is it that the masses of people believing in Obama and wanting change makes them lemmings? I realize that the status quo is much easier to maintain. I realize that Obama has a long row to hoe and that progress will be slow and incremental. I realize that no candidate has EVER come through on all of their campaign promises. I don’t hold Obama to unrealistic standards, but I have a realistic hope that people do not want to continue living in fear, poverty and ill-health. I made my choice, and my choice happened to win, but had McCain been elected I would still have chosen to hope after feigning despair. If we, in the United States, claim to having no reason to hope for improvement then what motivation can we expect people in truly impoverished or oppressed nations to have? Suck it up Americans, cynicism is only cool if you are comfortable and don’t really need change to maintain basic life functions. But let your inner humanitarian have a voice and choose to be hopeful for those who don’t have luxury of hipster sarcasm. And if you still can’t feel goosebumps or see the vague light the end of the tunnel, drink the cyanide. You’re dead inside anyway.