After trolling through facebook for a bit, I've mostly been reading people's status messages because, predictably, they're all filled with their reactions to the elections. They range from ecstatic to mildly relieved on the left and go from resigned to bigoted and hateful on the right. I'm sure that if the results were flipped, the left would be angry, shocked, and again disillusioned, but this isn't something that we're not used to. And yes, I just said "we".
In high school, I went to downtown Detroit and marched for peace. I was going to become a card-carrying member of the Socialist party, but was foiled when I drove my beloved Pacific-green '98 Escort SE into a light post and was no longer able to drive downtown. My AP government teacher called me a feminazi. This was probably accurate, if not a little derogatory. In grade school, I proclaimed that I would never marry, in fact, I would never even date because boys were beneath me. My views on politics and romance have softened considerably, perhaps most strongly witnessed by my impending wedding in December, but the political leanings are still there.
I've often wondered where I had developed my political identity. My dad is a blue-turned-white collar worker retired from Ford Motor Company and my mom was militantly Catholic. I guess you could best describe my dad as a modern-day populist whose conservative social positions were greatly eclipsed in this last election by the crumbling Michigan economy. I never really knew my mom's political identity, perhaps because she passed away before I really started to consider my own; however, the one thing that they both instilled in me that resonates strongly is the idea that people's choices are extremely personal and we should never force our belief system upon others. The other thing that they instilled in me was a Catholic education that spanned from pre-school 'til ninth grade and was chock-full-o Sunday mass with a large helping of guilt.
Somewhere between the daily religion class and the Sunday mass, I picked up the fact that the redistribution of wealth was a good thing. I guess my views aren't nearly as extreme anymore, but this laid the seeds for my support of universal health care, the general idea that the government should do everything that it can to help its citizens, and the firm belief that a country should be judged on the way that it treats the poorest of its poor.
So after last night's election, I am filled with hope. Do I believe Barack Hussein Obama to be the perfect candidate? No, because no one is, but I think that he is the most capable. I was unconvinced at first, but after a grueling democratic primary and this election, I find that he is capable and very much able to grow and improve and look out for the American people. I feel that his is the ideal American story. He was never born with a silver spoon in his mouth, nor did he marry into it, but he found a way to establish himself such that he is at the center of one of the most historical presidential elections in the history of the United States. Most importantly, he instills a sense of renewed hope in America and I for the first time in a long time, I am excited and proud to be a citizen of the United States of America. Yes we can!