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Relief Amidst Scrambling

November 6th, 2008


This really wasn’t the best week for the election to happen for me. What should have been a milestone event in my life in which I could revel, ponder, luxuriate, and (of course) blog my little heart out, just happened to fall at a time in which I have been more busy than I have in months. And I just got married twice on two continents and led my branch campus through an accreditation process. This week–and, in particular, since the morning of the election–has been the worst. I have literally not had more than 20 minutes to myself without having work to do. I am looking at staying up until 5am tonight working on the school’s Arts Day video.

* Sigh. *

Well, after Arts Day. And the post-wedding party we’ve planned for the past few weeks. Yeah. After that.

For now, though, just one comment: even discounting my being almost too busy to notice much, I think that my reaction to this election was far more muted than I expected. The strongest sensation was relief, something other people I know also reported. And with that, a bit of a light feeling, like a glow or a buzz, maybe how you feel after a hard workout almost.

I guess that’s what hope feels like. It’s been such a long time, I’d forgotten.

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  1. Tim Kane
    November 7th, 2008 at 13:10 | #1

    Actually I noticed the same sensation. I’m not as happy as I thought I ought to be.

    But when I talk to a foreigner about what just happened, I do get choked up about some, for some strange reason.

    I figure that part of my muted feelings is because I wanted 60 senators, and I especially wanted Al Franken to become elected. He’s smart, has great and profound perspective, he’s grounded, he’s very humane and compassionate and he’s very very funny, a master satirist, and humor and mocking of the opponent is a very powerful tool in politics (See Barney Frank mocking Republicans into signing onto the Wall Street bailout or FDR’s ‘My Dog Falla’ story winning him his 4th term practically all by itself) Franken’s wit could be a lethal tool in the senate for many years to come. Fortunately there are still fairly good chances of getting to 60, and a reasonable chance that the recount in Minnesota will work Al’s way. I figure Al’s worth two or three senators all by himself. So if he makes it all be quite happy.

    The other thing is that conditions in the U.S. are just so bad that Obama has to start in such a hole. I almost sense that Bush squandered so many resources that he’s made it impossible for the country to implement a Keynesian solution. Some of Obama’s options are narrowed. Also the issue of his cabinet is just as important and so far some of the indications are less than exciting, though I confess I don’t know a lote of specifics or dynamics behind the men being considered.

    But I really do think Obama is the best man for the job. Just on personal qualities, I think he has, going in, the best stack of attributes of any President we’ve ever had. That’s not to be predictive of the future, but damn, he’s good. And he’s our guy.

    I also feel immense elation that an African American has made it to the Presidency.

    I am the only American at my University. Often I write famous quotes down the left side of the black board at the begging of class as a kind of clue or riddle or a segue on the topic of the class for the students to think about, while I do other preliminary things like take attendance.

    However, After Wednesday, down the right side I wrote the following:

    About the American Election:
    “Americans always do the right thing, but only after they’ve tried everything else first” – Winston Churchill (paraphrased from memory).

    “I had a dream, that one day, all people will be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. (paraphrased from memory).

    Maybe after ten minutes of other activities, I come back to this to explain the meaning of the quotes.

    I try to explain to the students that no Americans of my generation, that I know of, ever believed that what happened Wednesday (here) would ever happen in my life time. And it get’s me choked up every time, and my eyes water just a little. I’m not sure that they understand the nuances I try to project but they can see my emotional reaction and they know something significant must have happened, and that’s what I’m trying to communicate to them – there is something there to be appreciated. Maybe, if they are curious, they’ll figure it out.

    And deep inside, I have a mixture of pride that is muted by the shame of the last 8 years. I feel proud for my country electing Obama, but its also the same country that elected Bush.

    I’m proud, but I’m not redeemed. America should be proud, but should not feel redeemed. At the same time, I do feel like maybe I live in a brand new country.

    Strange mix of feelings.

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