It occurs to me that a lot of people don't understand the hope that is inspired by Barack Obama. They think he's all flowery speeches and charisma. They think there's no there there... no substance, or that if there is substance the substance is ego; that this man is campaigning for president as a means of placating his own ego.
It occurs to me that over the past nearly-thirty years, a lot of people have lost sight of the American Dream to the extent that all those who offer hope, who speak well about it, who seek to provide change for this country, the change it needs: those people are just liars. They're not leaders, they're politicians. They're not leaders, they're just trying to get into power so they can... what?
It occurs to me that there are too many people who have become so jaded by the politics begun by the President many of the admire for his so-called greatness. That President did change the game. His advisers were fond of saying "I don't want everyone to vote; in fact the majority of elections are won [by Republicans] when people don't vote"; they said they wanted government to be so small they could drown it in a bathtub. Except that they and their progeny in the current administration have grown government exponentially, yet these same progeny continue to espouse goals of small government that stays out of American's business -- unless you're a woman of child bearing age, a homosexual, or some other undesirable.
It occurs to me that too many people have gotten so caught up in this whole jaded-about-politics-and-thereby-everything-else thing (that is, politics they don't pay attention to), that they've lost the message. They've lost the dream, and they've forgotten how to hope. These are the people who can derive no pleasure out of Barack Obama's historic presidential nomination, because they feel the deck was stacked. Because they weren't paying attention to the movement that had begun long before Barack Obama was able to get out in front of it and say more eloquently what everyone in that movement was already thinking.
There are others, too, who have forgotten how to hope. Others who hear the fears and smears in the media and nothing else because they don't have time to listen to progressive talkers, or because they aren't even aware they exist. These people aren't jaded so much as terrified. They see the media screaming about John McCain and Sarah Palin, and they get scared. Frightened almost into submission because they too have forgotten how to hope.
"We have been told that we cannot do this," Barack said when he lost the New Hampshire Primary. "We have been warned against giving the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope."
This has become my mantra. For so long, before Barack became this superstar in the Democratic party I was afraid that there was no hope for a future for this country. We would continue down this path that we have been dragged down by partisan politics that have divided us, unrelenting greed (that we were told was good for everyone, good for the economy) that has robbed us, unregulated industries that have poisoned us, and a group of people who seek to deny us our rights while demonizing those who seek to make the American Dream accessible to all the people who live in this nation not just those who have enough privilege to be handed the dream fulfilled.
There are a lot of people who have lied to you. They have told you you're better off than you are, better off than those people. They have told you that there is such a thing as "us" versus "them", and the "them" of the moment has to be defeated whether its Reagan's Welfare Queens (did you know that 70% of the women on Welfare are white?) or George W. Bush's "terrists" (did you know that by invading and occupying Iraq we have created more terrorists than we have killed?).
"But America's children are not those children, they are OUR children," Barack said. There is no US and THEM.
I don't know how to teach you how to hope. I do know that my heros have always told me that the person I should be listening to is the person who gives me hope rather than the one trying to scare me. I do know that hope has always been a driving force in my life, and even when things seemed the most bleak, there was still music that could help me. In that light, here are a couple of performances from the DNC that you may have missed.
Melissa Etheridge at the DNC
Yes We Can at the DNC
If you aren't weeping, you need to watch them again.