Friday, August 29, 2008

my super bowl

Or, why I love politics

Tonight I am camped out on my sofa, with a really superb glass of merlot and my favorite Chinese takeout, waiting to watch the acceptance speech of presidential candidate, Barack Obama. I am exceptionally geared-up for this speech (and if you are stridently opposed to Barack, just let me share my blog! Thanks!)

And – truth be told - I am not ashamed to admit that I am very much excited by the “moment.” After all, I can’t name a time when I have seen 85,000 Americans of all colors and ages gathered and truly excited about being part of our great process. The former American history teacher in me, who always harped on her students to get involved, believe they had a voice, and genuinely encouraged them to “participate! participate! participate!” is pretty jazzed about what’s playing out in Denver tonight.

Yep. That’s right. I am engaged and enthusiastic to see tens of thousands of Americans gathered together to engage in the political process. I am proud to be an American and I refuse to be jaded, cynical, or mean-spirited about it. (I am also fairly bright, and aware of the issues and well-read on both party platforms … so before judging me too harshly or deciding I am some na├»ve, poorly informed voter, think again ;-)

Yes. I love the process, the debates, and the well-mannered challenge. Back in college, I started out as a Poli Sci. major. As a classroom educator, I loved teaching students the finer points of U.S. History and watching them engage in the passion of our history and our politics. I loved teaching anything prior to 1963. Would you like to know why? Because after that time, a deep, jaded, cynical, doubt crept into the American political spirit – and we haven’t shaken it yet. But something is stirring.

I love being an American. And I love the varied depth of our people. Campaigns at the grassroots are powerful, and expansive, and engaging, and – frankly – fun. And in just a few moments, an unlikely candidate will accept the nomination for one of our major political parties riding the wave of grassroots support. It’s remarkable. He is the first African American candidate – and listening to a pair of young black men speak on a street corner in New Orleans two days ago, it struck me that – Republican or Democrat or Independent – I am proud of our people, because it’s about time.

Next week, the energy continues and I will tune in to the events in Minneapolis with as much vim and vigor. These few weeks of politicking are my Super Bowl, you might say. And at the heart of it all, for me, is a profound respect and appreciation for our democratic ideal. How excellent to participate.

A few thoughts ...

“It is that American spirit, that American promise, that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night and a promise that you make to yours, a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west, a promise that led workers to picket lines and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that, 45 years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustrations of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead -- people of every creed and color, from every walk of life -- is that, in America, our destiny is inextricably linked, that together our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back... not with so much work to be done; not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for; not with an economy to fix, and cities to rebuild, and farms to save; not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend.

America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone.”

No comments: