Thursday, November 27, 2008

Decision 2008

We Were One On November 4th
By Alex Catarinella

Historic. Monumental. The most important date in American history. I'm sure we have all heard something of this nature in the past hours. But, somehow, it still hasn't set in.

It hasn't even been 24 hours, but we can now breathe. Sort of. But, what I can do is reflect upon last night. The first time since I can remember where I could say I'm again proud to be an American.

As I walked into an East Village bar last night, the crowd began to freak out. It was only about 11 PM and CNN was already predicting what seemed unthinkable a few months ago. And this time, there was no shady recounting. I could not control the screaming that roared from within me. I could not believe how united everyone in the bar was. The hugs were never-ending. I thought: "So this is what they meant by 'America the Beautiful'."

I haven't shed more than a few tears since my uncle succumbed to cancer over a year ago. And I couldn't help but to relate his musical group, the Beatles, and lead singer John Lennon’s solo album, "Imagine," to last night.

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one.

And as Barack gave his victory speech, my tears began to pour. I felt a sense of oneness as Barack, the dreamer, the one that virtually came out of nowhere, was elected President of the United States. Essentially, he is the leader that could allow the world to "be as one." I will never forget what my aunt told me shortly before my uncle passed away: "There is no life without hope." Barack may be that hope for us.

As my friends and I descended into the streets of New York, we had no plan. We stumbled where our feet took us, like we were walking in a dreamy haze. We shared a little too many celebratory drinks, which certainly helped my over-friendliness. We began to run to the arms of every stranger--of every age, ethnicity, gender--screaming at the top of our lungs "Yes, we DID!"

And these weren't just any hugs: they were genuine, bear hugs that you don't just give out to any stranger. But it didn't matter last night. Barack spoke to me, to millions, and he can speak to all of us. That's what exactly what Barack did. He spoke to the youth via the Internet and touring college campuses; he didn't silence us. He allowed us to have a voice.

My newfound freedom was exhilarating. And out of control… I opened a taxi door and offered a taxi driver my cigarette. I hugged a larger-than-life and not-too-friendly bouncer. I even hugged the international pop star Moby about three times. I felt liberated. On top of the world. In fact, my friends and I took the elevator to the rooftop of the Bowery Hotel (my little secret) and stared off at the lit skyscrapers. Our city: the city that continues to lose jobs, but also the city that still has hope for tomorrow.

I'm not one to say I know much about politics. But I do know sincerity. President Bush lied to us for the past eight years. He made fools out of America. He slept while young soldiers died for a greedy and horrific war. Senator McCain ran an awful campaign in which he'd do absolutely anything to get a vote, including choosing the incompetent and frightening Gov. Sara Palin as his VP. Again, similar to Bush, McCain perceived us as fools.

That we'd choose Palin because she was an attractive, young, "pitbull with lipstick," hockey mother, whose stylist just happens to be the highest paid person on the McCain team.

And then there's the pathetic, human-prop Joe the Plumber. Sure, they put up a good, if not, cruel, fight in their attempt to tear down Obama. But what do they have left now? Certainly not their dignity.

Maybe a few reality television shows for Palin and Joe the Plumber. (But I hope not for our sake and sanity!) Obama was sincere. Even Hillary, who about a year ago was the shoe-in Democrat nominee, acknowledged Barack's sincerity with her rather desperate attempt of a teary emotional slip (that, of course, was recorded and replayed over and over again). Republicans such as Colin Powell felt Barack's sincerity. And as a result of Barack being a human rather than the old, white politician, he is now the people's president.

Harriet Tubman once said about the slaves running for freedom (and aptly and SINCERELY used in Hillary Clinton’s speech supporting Barack).

If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If they’re shouting after you, keep going.
Don’t ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

Barack keeps us going. His message is so profound and speaks to everyone; that there are no limitations. And as Barack expressed in his transcendant acceptance speech, November 4, 2008 wasn’t just any ordinary day. It was, as Obama said, "the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day."

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