Barack to Work

So it’s the morning after, and cynicism is setting in.
Not to say it wasn’t a celebratory and inspiring night. I spent it watching CNN and mingling at the Hickory Ridge Country Club where John Olver held his modest victory party (73/27 – my bf will still have his job in January!). And Massachusetts voted overwhelmingly not to repeal the state income tax, thank goodness.

What bothers me is the self-congratulatory chorus of clone status message updates on my buddy list. I’m saddened to think that for most of them, this is the end of their involvement in our democratic government. For many of them, voting wasn’t an impassioned matter of civic duty but of classical media conditioning: as compulsive as shopping at Hollister or choosing the plan with unlimited text messages . And with celebrity endorsements and perks like free Starbucks coffee, who can blame them for joining the “cause”? Their vote was as thoughtful as buying that “green” cloth bag at the grocery store: in fashion.

I’m thrilled that the United States has elected a president with the most progressive promises of any major party candidate I’m aware of. But I’m craving radical changes that are beyond our next president’s grasp. Broadly speaking, I’d like to see a change in our mental environment (thanks, Adbusters). Where apathy, elitism, and entitlement are stamped out. Where we aren’t conditioned to blindly accept our capitalist, guiltless, media-distorted lifestyles and consume consume consume. Would Obama have made it this far if he wasn’t a Christian? If he was poor (definitely not)? If he wasn’t heterosexual? If Michelle refused to shave her armpits or had a tattoo sleeve or had a history of drug abuse (like delicate white princess Cindy McCain)?

While I’m elated that the United States has elected its first black president, I’m also sobered by the fact that it’s taken so fucking long! Slavery was abolished over a century ago. Only in 2008 can a majority of the American population conceive of a black man man holding the highest office in our country. But a significant minority still can’t. Just yesterday, I heard a woman on the radio say, “I’m not prejudicial or anything, but I don’t think America is ready for a black president.” I looked at the tragically disappointed faces in the crowd at McCain’s concession speech and was reminded of the folks who consider the current outcome their greatest nightmare.

I’m not relieved. It’s not looking good for Proposition 8. I didn’t ask for global warming or to donate my life to correcting the disastrous economy or for finding a job out of a great college being the hardest thing ever when I’ve got to start paying back $18,000 in student loans come December. My immediate future is royally fucked before we even call my ideals into the picture. So I’m just sayin’ – I’m not ready to pat myself on the back just yet, and maybe you, dear reader, shouldn’t either.


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