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Obama Has Me Believing Again


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All my life, I had an idealist view about what government and ethics looked like. I grew up with the teachings of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and how our nation was founded under great and noble ideas.

I was very proud to live in the United States. We learned about Lincoln and how our nation was torn apart then put back together. We learned of how Franklin D. Roosevelt brought us out of the Great Depression.

My father was the president of the Democratic Party in Oregon in the 60s, even campaigning for his election. The words of JFK, Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders of the time meant so much to my family and I. I’ve tried to pass that along to my son, reading him the Declaration of Independence many times—even making him memorize the first paragraph.

In my high school years, I had illusions to the 60s being a great liberating time, and in many ways it was. However I longed for, perhaps naively, such a righteous cause in my own world. None existed that I knew about. I felt nothing that great could or would occur in my lifetime. I was too young to remember us landing on the moon, but I do remember writing to President Richard Nixon to ask why the price of groceries was so high and getting a form letter back telling me what a great kid I was for having an interest in my government. I also remember his impeachment and the shame he brought our nation with it.

I remember learning of the riots in the 1960s and 70s when we drove through Harlem. Greed was good in the 80s and my peers were becoming Young Republicans wearing black trench coats. I was sickened by the beating of Matthew Shepard and appalled at the election of George W. Bush and the blatant corruption that went with the administration. I publicly objected the war in Iraq and received hate calls/mail for it.

Never in my lifetime have I had an experience where a public servant inspired me as JFK did my dad or Jefferson and Adams did founding our nation.

I always dreamed of what the pursuit of noble and fair ideals sounded like, looked like, felt like. But mostly I only became cynical, disillusioned and distrusting when they never happened. I came to think of our founding as a nation as a fairy tale, something long ago lost or maybe it just never really existed. Just stories told to us by our government and teachers. Ideals discussed and desired but never really reached.

This year was different. For the first time in my adult life, a candidate inspired me. Inspired me not just to campaign for his election, but in the idea that we are good and our ideals as a nation can thrive. President-elect Barack Obama has showed us we do not have to be filled with corruption, greed and hatred. When I hear him talk, I believe him.

I can imagine his reading about Jefferson, Adams, King, JFK and all of the greats before us. I think Obama believes in our nation and its ideals. For the first time in my life I believe that maybe what we were taught is possible. He is not perfect nor do I believe that he can solve the world’s problems. But I do believe him to be honest, noble and with the best interest of our nation at heart. And I believe that change for the better is possible again.

I haven’t believed that for a long time.

Only time will tell how everything works out, but it is wonderful to be inspired by my own country and what is possible. It just well could be happening in our lifetime and we get to see it unfold before our eyes. My son might just have a chance at growing up with something greater than all the cynicism that was developed on my calloused ideals in my life.

Obama speaking has not just inspired me, but a nation and the world as well. America, it seems, has choosen virtue and nobility this time.

— Shavonne Blades, Yellow Scene Magazine publisher

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