It is a good day to be an American overseas. Everywhere we go people are shaking our hands, giving the high sign, acting like our country’s wayward foreign policy didn’t just fuck up the world in the past eight years. It’s not so much that all is forgiven, more that people seem to remember why they loved America in the first place.
It’s odd how much the focus over here is on Obama’s race. I guess we’ve been living with the race (and gender) question in this election for so long, it’s been eclipsed by other things: leadership ability, political organization, questions about the economy and war and just how we’re going to drag ourselves out of the mess we’re in. Race seemed almost irrelevant.
Then it suddenly was again. Images of Jesse Jackson crying or Obama being hugged by his recently-deceased white grandmother crowd TV screens. It’s a feeling that he is the son of the American idea: a rare person whose life story is interwoven with the questions of immigrants, patriots, Midwestern values, Northeastern education and the uniquely American experience with race.
And now he’s going to be president. It’s almost as if we forgot all of this race business because none of it would have mattered if Obama hadn’t been such an incredibly astute politician. They’re still catching up with that idea over here, and it is true that of the two reasons to be inspired by an Obama win, it is the less interesting one.
But for those of us who are accustomed to our ideas being ignored, to watching our country deteriorate amid a mindless rush of nationalism and greed, to standing helplessly as a portion of our country embraces a willfully ignorant and morally bankrupt philosophy Ã‚Â— after eight years of that shit, it almost doesn’t matter that Obama is black. It’s more important that he is right.
And what a great feeling to wake up in the morning, for the first time in eight years, without mixed feelings about our country.