“I know the difference between a book club and this seminal moment in our history.” — Oprah Winfrey
The first time I heard Barack Obama speak was the summer of 2004; we had the DNC playing on the big screen at work. I wept, sniffled and wept some more and as soon as his speech was over, I ran to the phone, called Andy and said without greeting, “That man is going to be our president someday.”
I exerted a lot of effort that summer. Raised money for the Kerry campaign, beaded & sold bracelets with slogans like “Kerry On”, studied the issues, memorized talking points, attended meetings, passed out bumper stickers in front of the Home Depot. I kept voter registration forms and campaign literature in my purse at all times for months on end.
On election day, I got all dressed up and volunteered as a non-partial poll worker. It felt like a holiday, like it was the day that things would finally start looking up.
We didn’t have cable TV at the time, so that night Andy and I went to a nearby restaurant to watch the returns. It was the same place that had hosted local Democrats for all of the debates. I sat there with my spreadsheets, checking off boxes & doing math as the talking heads rattled off the numbers. Before anyone called it, hours before anyone called it, I knew. I said to Andy, It’s impossible. We’ve lost. I showed him my figures and charts and he could see I was right. We packed up quickly. It was early, probably not even 9pm. Around us people were settling in with drink orders watching the TVs blissfully unaware. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. As soon as we got outside and began our walk home, I did scream. I did cry.
I don’t want to feel that way ever again.
My political ideals have been under a thick callous since that November. Thanks to Faboo Mama, tonight I watched Oprah’s recent 19 minute speech endorsing Barack. It was a little like a comforting soak in very warm, clean water.