Monday, November 3, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: Obama Election Day Countdown Day 1--I Am Excited and I Am Scared

Who would have thought 2 years ago, we would be twenty four hours away from a moment where a Black American would be elected president? I still don't believe it. I am still holding my breath. And I can't believe it until I see Barack sworn into office in January. As I am sure so many others are also feeling, for me, this is a moment filled with a peculiar mix of fear and hope, of anxiety and peace (maybe acceptance is a better word), and of just "crooked" insecurity and reluctant glee. Yes, that is the feeling--however imprecise as I may have expressed it. I have a self-assured, smug, half-smile on my face right now, as I think about what MAY happen tomorrow. I hope this feeling won't be replaced by numbness and withdrawal if McCain-Palin happen to win. Accordingly, some thoughts:

22 Things About the Election that I am both Excited and Scared About

1. I am excited that the American people may be more mature, wise, and reflective than I would have guessed them ever capable of being. I am scared that they may not be.

2. I am excited that Obama's victory could be a cathartic moment for our country as America moves one step closer to confronting, and maybe if we are really lucky, of conquering the demons that plague its racial subconscious. I am afraid those demons may be semi-permanent fixtures in our politics and culture.

3. I am excited about Obama winning. I am scared that if he loses, what that defeat says about America, our future, and the prospects for a truly shared and democratic political culture.

4. I am excited that Barack could be what America hopes and dreams him to be. I am scared that if Obama is just a man, if he is not superhuman, if he is merely just a good president, that this won't be good enough.

5. I am excited that these last few months have been witness to conversations about race, class, and gender (even if they were often "coded") that hint at a need and want for a real conversation about this country's future and what is/was an often ugly and shared history. I am scared that these first steps will be final steps and that our much needed national conversation won't continue.

6. I am excited that White Americans are displaying a bit more responsibility, courage, and wisdom as citizens than I would have ever thought them capable. I am scared that I am about to be disappointed.

7. I am excited that we are at the cusp of a great moment in our history. I am scared that we are investing too much in that one moment.

8. I am excited that the house that race built may be teetering just a wee bit more than it did a year, a decade, or certainly a century ago. I am scared that it will never fall down.

9. I am excited that a Black person will be president. I am scared that he won't be free to simply be mediocre.

10. I am excited that the president of the United States may happen to be a Black man. I am scared that many will view Obama as a Black man who is president.

11. I am excited that a centrist may occupy the White House. I am scared that the wolves are already waiting at the door to attack him for not being "radical" enough.

12. I am excited that the Right-wing in this country has been dealt a devastating blow. I am scared that the Right will somehow find a way to profit from this moment.

13. I am excited that we may see history happen tomorrow. I am scared that we may instead witness history tomorrow.

14. I am excited about the future, our undiscovered country. I am scared that the force of history, of inertia, and of bad habits--a moribund nostalgia--will keep America from stepping into the future.

15. I am excited about being blown forward by the winds of change tomorrow. I am scared that there are too many whom will instead decide to stand against the winds of change tomorrow.

16. I am excited that an unapologetically Black man may be president. I am scared that Obama, as "white" as he is, may still be too "Black" to be president.

17. I am excited that many of us seem ready to move forward as a society, as a country, and as a community in order to salvage and resuscitate America's influence and image in the world. I am scared that so many are going to have to be dragged into the future.

18. I am excited that we may be able to scratch one more item off of our list of "Black Firsts." I am scared that list of Black Firsts is still too long.

19. I am excited that America will make the correct choice tomorrow. I am scared that America will make the wrong choice tomorrow.

20. I am excited about a Post-Racial future. I am scared about what a Post-Racial future may hold.

21. I am excited about what an Obama victory means for the Black Freedom Struggle. I am a scared about what an Obama victory may mean for Black politics.

22. I am excited about what it means to be an American tomorrow. I am scared about what it means to be an American tomorrow...and for every day thereafter if America stands against history and decides to not move forward with it.

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What are your thoughts? What are you excited about? What are you scared about? How will you spend tomorrow?

23 comments:

Tariq Nelson said...

I know that history has ALREADY been made, but there are no points for second place. If he loses, then everything we have worked so hard for this year will have been lost. We MUST win tomorrow.

I feel a lot of anxiety right now

JohnRJ said...

Most of us have learned the difference between a "negative" campaign and an "attack" campaign. The former criticizes an opponent's policies and track record, while an attack ad is nothing more than ad hominem assault on their character using innuendo, guilt-by-association and unprovable rumors. Negative ads are most effective when a candidate uses them in a comparison to their own policies and track record. Otherwise, you're just asking for someone to vote against your opposition rather than for you.

In this election, we have seen the most dishonorable and misleading political campaign since John Quincy Adams ran against Andrew Jackson in the early 19th century. The result of this campaign will be that the Republican candidate loses this election. There is no question that if the John McCain we saw back in 2000 would have been in charge of this campaign, we would be looking at a much tighter race. That John McCain would never have caved in to the right-wing factions of his party and agreed to select a completely incompetent running-mate in order to pander to the Republican "base". He would have chosen a running-mate who was best for the country, rather than for his campaign. More importantly, he would have rejected the tactics he has resorted to in this election.

The downward spiral of this man, who was once admired by most Americans, has been a sad spectacle to watch. His behavior has been unpredictable, erratic, awkward and strangely indifferent to the mood of the country. Instead of focusing on the current economic crisis, he has spent valuable campaign energy trying to plant suspicion about Barack Obama's patriotism, his religious beliefs and his honesty. He and Sarah Palin has suggested that a sitting Senator of the United States may be a Marxist, socialist, Muslim with terrorist sympathies who wants Israel destroyed. The latest accusation is that he may be responsible in some way for his aunt's illegal immigration status in this country. If we're not hearing this hateful litany of lies, we're hearing references to "Joe-the-Plumber", a mythical character who never really existed, yet the "actor" who plays him has been invited to stand on the stage with the Republican candidates. If these people weren't running for the highest office in the land during a time of great crisis, it would be quite funny.

The biggest question now is how the Republican Party will respond to this nation-wide rejection of its Karl Rove style tactics, which were inspired by Joe McCarthy in the early 1950's. The conservative movement has many admirable tenets, but they've been buried beneath the polarizing and essentially unresolvable issues of reproductive freedom, gay marriage and class warfare. All that we can hope now is that Barack Obama lives up to our expectations about his ability to unify and heal a nation that has been severely wounded by the despicable rhetoric that has been spewed by the McCain/Palin campaign for the last two months.

The Maven said...

Chauncey,

I am excited that I have the opportunity to defer the dream no longer by casting my vote for Barack Obama! I am excited that the First Family may finally look like me. I am excited to have them represent well. I am excited to carry the memories of a host of my loved ones into the booth with me. I am excited to be able to have this discussion with you. I am happy that I am alive to see this!

I am not giving energy to fear right now. Can't afford to.....

I will awake early in the morning and bundle up (Cali mornings can be nippy), post up at the polls, handle my business when its my turn, then walk back home, get comfy and cozy with my remote and computer, some food, some wine and my phone.

MG said...

Re: Excitement point 1: I think you (like some of our financial institutions once did) give Americans too much credit. They aren't voting for Obama because they are mature, wise, and reflective (if they were mature, wise, and reflective Bush never would have gotten into the White House except when he visited his daddy), but because they are scared -- ie, the exact opposite of mature, wise, and reflective. They've seen enough of Bush and Bushism to vote for the alternative, whatever that might be. Not to dis Obama, but they'd vote Mickey Mouse for president, as long as he wasn't a Republican.

As for me, the one prospect that excites me specifically about a black president (policy wise Obama won't achieve anything more than a white Democrat would have) is the possibility that seeing a black face in the highest office in the world will inspire the people I left behind in the ghetto, lo those many years ago. Physically left behind, anyway. Mentally left behind, well, that's a whole 'nother story.

Lisa said...

I have always been excited about Barack Obama's message and vision and what I thought his election could do to unify a country so demoralized by the wars, the expansion of executive power by the Bush administration, the shameful use of torture, the violation of privacy inflicted on Americans in the name of safety, US refusal to participate in global coalitions, etc. etc. That we could elect a leader who could raise us from this despair would be take us far, but for that man to be the son of a white woman and an African man provides us the opportunity to begin to heal a divide that nags at the soul of this country. Ever since I listened to his speech, "A More Perfect Union", I knew there was a real chance for us to move beyond this awkward place where too much fear, resentment, anger and ignorance still lie just below the surface when it comes to race. His election is a symbolic victory for those of us have needed to see that anything is possible for any American. To have had the nomination come down to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton extends that possibility to every boy and girl of any ethnicity. I am thrilled to be a part of this historic time.

I am afraid of the anger that is so palpable, but I am hopeful and confident that a President Obama will find a way to unify us, despite the anger and disappointment of his opponents.

Tomorrow, I will be watching every moment. If he carries my historically Republican state of Colorado, I will be twice as proud that my vote really counted.

James said...

I think Barak Obama has the potential to be a great leader, and I truly hope that he is elected today by a wide margin. At the same time, I'm worried that being a great leader won't be enough, and that he will be buried under the pile of shit that the current president has left him: Economic turmoil, a credit crisis and pending recession.

Great potential may not be enough, as Jimmy Carter experienced in the 1970's.

robshor said...

As an englishman resident in the U.K.
I am very, very excited by the idea of a black president. am also afraid that all parties will expect miracles of a man and that the fall of such an icon could unleash huge amounts of fear,anger and confusion.
I am not religious but my prayers are with you all now and for the future.

Robert said...

When I was barely 6 years old growing up in Arkansas, I for the first time, saw black people. I grabbed my mothers hand, I was so excited I wanted to know how I could become a black person too! My mother did not let me run to those wonderful people and celebrate their blackness. She was wise, I doubt that I would have been understood.

Today, on this election, I again want to know how I can become a black person. I want to run to them and celebrate their blackness!

I will not, I don't think my childish glee will be appreciated. But know this. Today I would be proud to be black!

Bob

ckerst said...

I am proud that I had the chance to vote for Barak Obama. He reminds me so much of Bobby Kennedy. It seems like we are getting a chance to put a truly great man in a position to do do great things at a time when we desperately need it.

Anonymous said...

Great post!
I am excited and afraid too (though I am a white non-American).
I studied your Constitution (and many famous court cases) during high school and developed a great love for it (not that I am not perfectly proud of my own constitution and country).

How proud I would be of America! I am literally tearful thinking about the possibility of positive change.
The whole world wants that man in office. But please don't expect way too much - Obama has to overcome the economic and political situation he'll inherit from the crooks in office now. Some big job!!

BlueEgyptian said...

This whole thing has me very emotional...and it is difficult to even describe how. I feel excitement, hope, and melancholy and fear all at once.

People have been pitted against each other in this country for far too long. Even the most ardent white supremacist, if you scratch the surface past the bullshit, probably just wants to live in peace and provide for their family. Since the beginnings of this country, colour has been pitted against each other for the benefit of a few at the top of the pyramid. I see now a huge potential for healing this... In a way, it is already happening. The financial crisis we are in is a perfect example. When everything comes out in the wash, it will be more obvious how the control of "green" and keeping the wealth in the hands of a few has capitalized on keeping the races alienated. A $700 bill bailout because of a few minority home owners? That is what these thieves want you to believe.

Either way, things are going to change in the US...and today can be an indicator of what the people are REALLY concerned with. Keeping food on the table? vs. Believing incomplete/farcical definitions of marxist, socialist, liberal...even friggin Joe the Plumber.

I just cannot believe that we are collectively that stupid...and we are NOT.

Thanks for the words...

VJBinCT said...

Full disclosure: I am a 64-year-old white New Englander, well-enough off, with many black African friends and acquaintances professionally but few African-Americans. (Thin on the ground hereabouts.) Voting this morning made me think back to a visit to the Apartheid Museum in Pretoria a few years ago. The museum has a path through it you must take, and it ends with the open election that made Nelson Mandela president of South Africa. By then I was weeping for joy (very powerful emotional experience--he is one of my heroes, and an original Mandela for President campaign poster has the place of honor on my office wall). This election may be transformative in much the same way: Obama may be able to put us back together (red and blue), and certainly will help race relations improve. I hope to hell he won't disappoint too much; expectations are running too high for a mortal human being to meet. But I hope that maybe his father actually was Jor-El from Krypton (as he joked at the Al Smith dinner in NYC a while back), and he can pull it off.

Anonymous said...

11. I am excited that a centrist may occupy the White House. I am scared that the wolves are already waiting at the door to attack him for not being "radical" enough.

We wolves are indeed waiting. We helped elect him. We know he is a centrist (like all Democratic presidents). We will indeed be snarling and snapping at his heels, and we will indeed herd him as far left as we "radically" can...just like any other Democratic president.

C.W. said...

I just want him to win and be safe.

Slugbug said...

I discovered your blog on election day - maybe linked at Crooks and Liars?

Here is ours - we are three elitist white people - too many degrees, read too much, drink too much Starbucks, live in cities in blue places (Seattle, Minneapolis, NYC)

& we LOVE YOUR BLOG!

Ours is http://www.silencedmajority.blogs.com

YES WE CAN!

We also have some of the same fears you outlined .. very good post.

Batocchio said...

Great list.

I'm scared of all the pressure he's already getting to govern as Reagan, even if he wins in a landslide, whereas when Bush narrowly won in 2004, it was proclaimed a "mandate." I'm scared of the pressures on him not to govern as a (pragmatic) liberal. I'm concerned that he's facing the worst situations since FDR. I'm excited that I think he may be up for it. I'm excited that so many people have his back. I'm very excited a black man may be president. And I'm excited Americans may be getting wiser.

Cityzenjane said...

Great post... so aptly captures all the feelings I am having today.
Obama's lead would have been much larger had the tentacles of racism not still been constricting some... McCain ran such a foul and pathetic campaign, Obama should be much farther ahead, but white priveledge means a man such as McCain's gaffs are not noticed or are forgiven...Can you imagine if Obama rattled his demmetented saber at Spain thinking it was lead by a Chavez?

In anycase WHAT A DAY!

Let's for a moment just soak it in. Let's for a moment think America imperfect as it is, we Americans are trying to display what is best in our aspirations today. I have never felt this proud of my country. Nor have I ever felt so proud to be represented by a man. And not in particular because he is an African American... as wonderful as that is...but because he is an INTELLECTUAL.

I want to add that I am white and come from a family that was absolutely appalled that I voted for Jesse Jackson...I didn't think he would win but I wanted his voice in all the debates. All of them are voting for Obama...NOT because they are scared, not simply because he is not Bush... but because they trully admire the man, appreciate his pov and his positions and agree with him on most things. Obama is a man of depth and substance and I feel sad that some previous commenters can't really sit at our dinner table and hear my family say - OBama is MY President...not because of some white guilt ( they don't express much of that honestly)Obama is their president because they would be very proud to have such a sharp man represent them internationally. They are not voting for him because they 'want to move past our racial history'...honestly they are not that engaged in 'our collective past.'

Obama is their president because they think he is an extraordinary man who has the potential to shepard us out of the terrible morrass this country is in. They believe in his abilities, to hire the right people, to consult the right advisers, to take the best advice, to think things through and to act in a calm a steady manner...all things that Obama has displayed in the last two years.

And yes, they fear that the atavistic and corrupt parts of this coutnry will take him away from us all.

But now is not the time to think of that.

VOTE BABY VOTE!

WHAT A DAY!!!!

BLUESBORN said...

I'm having a hard time posting for some reason,so if there is a delay,I apologise for posting 3 times!
-snip-
As a 50 year old white Canadian,I will observe this election day with fascination and awe.I never thought the day would come when Americans would be voting for a Black President.I sincerely hope Obama wins this thing,and wins with enough votes to empower him to make a real difference,and bring real change.Apart from the obvious racial issues,I hope Obama wins because of his even handed and extremely intelligent force of character.The World is heading into all kinds of stormy uncharted waters,and it is exactly a man with these qualities that we as HUMANS on EARTH need NOW.Viva Obama!!

Caroleigh said...

I am a white American, and I, too, am excited and scared. I can hardly breathe today! I feel like we have pulled our country back from the brink. After years of crushing sadness and disgust watching what has happened to our government, I feel like it is about to become ours again. Barack Obama is a visionary leader for ALL Americans. We can believe in a brighter future for all our children! I fear for Barack Obama, and America, because of the hatred for him that some so openly express. As Barack told us, "Power does not concede!", and neither does darkness. We must fight and fight and fight, and look out for each other.

Anonymous said...

I am a black man with an actual brain unlike you brainwashed brothers and sisters.. What is it we've won? Obama is going to destroy this country and use your money to do it. Brothers and sisters you've been blinded by hate...I guarantee you'll all be sorry if he gets elected. He will ruin this country!!

Noah Cross said...

I'm one of those folks who has had a knot in his stomache for the last eight years as he watched the US be crippled by the Bushies. As I feel more and more certain that Obama will win I feel that old knot start to unravel.

And I'm trying to not be too scared about all those things you mentioned, although I feel a bit of each of them almost every day.

If the campaign he has run is any indication, Obama is smart enough and capable enough to deflect the worst of the bad stuff that's coming, and deal competently with the right wing hate machine.

Zora said...

YES! YES! YES!

It's still not real. My vote in New Hampshire actually mattered!

I just heard McCain's concession speech and I have to say that I was impressed. He was dignified, gracious and thoughtful. Where was that McCain during the campaign? Palin and his advisers did him a great disservice.

As a result, we have our first president with a vowel at the end of his name -- O B A M A !!!!!!!!

Jacob said...

nice post