What does Barack Obama getting elected president mean to me? To put it simply, everything. His victory means everything to me. And it goes beyond the fact that I have worked my tail off for this campaign.
In my opinion, the better man won. Of course, that fact can be debated until the end of time. However, supporters of both candidates can agree that the best campaign won. I am fond of and have the deepest respect for John McCain, but, truth be told, his presidential campaign was a hot mess. Plain and simple. There were several ads and statements made by his campaign that McCain either didn’t know about or didn’t agree with. If his campaign did something he didn’t approve of, he should have put a stop to it; he didn’t seem to realize that he was the boss. The way I looked at it, why should he be trusted to run the most powerful nation in the world if he couldn’t control his own staff? By contrast, Obama’s camp ran a campaign that was organized and highly effective (obviously). Its execution brings to mind a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” It’s as though these words were painted on the wall of every Obama for America office.
As much as I wish I could attribute Obama’s win to his superior campaign, it just isn’t so; John McCain made several critical mistakes. McCain supporters will try to blame the economic crisis for Obama’s victory. Shenanigans! The only thing the financial fallout did was present the two men with an opportunity to show the American people how they would react to a catastrophe. McCain was the one who said the fundamentals of the economy were strong when they clearly weren’t. He’s the one who “suspended his campaign” to address the emergency, only to not do anything about it. The economy didn’t damn McCain’s campaign; McCain’s reaction to the economy damned his campaign.
McCain supporters also like to accuse the media for being “in the tank for Obama.” Shenanigans! I’ve been following this campaign since before the primaries started and remember when Hillary Clinton was the main focus. More recently, in the weeks following Obama’s acceptance speech at Invesco Field, the television was saturated with Sarah Palin. I vividly recall waking up Friday, August 29, with my celebratory hangover, and seeing her on every channel. I waited and waited for some focus to shift back to Obama’s beautiful address but to no avail. As far as any subsequent media coverage was concerned, if news relating to the McPalin camp seemed negative, it’s because the campaign was a HOT MESS!
Speaking of Sarah Palin…Ding! Ding! Ding! Picking her was a mistake. I said it. There was a reason why they limited her exposure to the press. Perhaps if they fully restricted her contact to none whatsoever, he would have had a better shot at winning. But you can’t even blame Sarah Palin. She didn’t do anything except be Sarah Palin. She didn’t ask to be a part of the campaign, McCain asked her to be, once again showing poor judgment at a critical time.
So why bring this up? The man lost; why am I picking on him? I’m trying to exaggerate a fear I had. A fear that, in a panic, the American voters would vote for a less apt candidate. I assumed that, given the circumstances, the only logical reason for a McCain win would boil down to some underlying apprehension of electing a minority to the highest office in our country. Call me a cynic, but the 2004 election was fresh in my mind, and I could not fathom that happening one more time.
On a more significant note, I was watching my daughter watch Obama on TV when I realized something: She looks at Obama, sees brown skin much like hers, and it constitutes one of the reasons why she likes him (she’s five and is allowed that superficiality). She gets excited when she sees his daughters because they look like her; they could be her. In her mind, they are her friends. And that’s when I heard it, softly in the distance but clear as day: boom. The sound of hypothetical racial inequality disappearing. In that instant. Barack Obama is the first president she will cognitively remember. She’ll know why this win is historic, but only after it is taught to her. She’ll learn soon enough about Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, and Stokely Carmichael. She’ll learn soon enough about the poll tax, the use of police dogs and fire hoses on peaceful demonstrators, the church bombings, the “white-only” counters, and everything else associated with the Civil Rights Movement. She’ll learn just like I learned. The only difference is that I was taught by a generation who lived it. To them, my generation is one that epitomizes a step away from the injustices they had to endure and a step closer to a United States in which skin color would not be a detriment. My daughter’s generation would have represented yet another step closer to that goal, except those steps no longer exist. The world I grew up in is gone. I now live in a place as my daughter sees it. One in which she will never consider her skin a drawback. True, the same can be said for all African-Americans (or any persons of color, for that matter), but what is precious here is the fact that she doesn’t know the difference. This is her reality; this is all she knows. The disparity between the two worlds is dead. My parents lived through it, I lived with it, but my daughter will live without it.