I wasn’t going to write up anything about the election. Jovial scamp that I am, I figured my highlarious Zoolander gif would be appropriate enough. But then I thought that maybe I might regret that sixty years from now. So here I am, writing my thoughts down at three in the morning, taking a break from completing my penultimate university assignment.

It’s a “what were you doing when” moment, only the second one in my lifetime so far. We all know what the first one was. I was twelve years old and already in bed when it happened at GMT +8. Missed that one.

So what was I doing when the United States elected its first black president? Well, I was was on the Internet. I was watching the CNN feed on ABC, browsing political websites, checking FiveThirtyEight.com and the BBC and Yahoo’s electoral map. I was posting on the Progressive Boink forums, making timeless observations such as:

CNN just boldly called Texas for John McCain!

CNN’s Phoenix correspondent has a weirdly shaped face.

ladies and gentlemen: will.i.am as a hologram.
cnn, you have outdone yourself in the fields of professionalism and dignity

And then I watched John McCain’s concession speech and I liked it. It was dignified, and gracious, and every time his asshole redneck supporters booed about Obama he was clearly displeased and told them, in polite terms, to shut up.

And I figured that if I was impressed by McCain’s speech I would be blown away by Obama’s. Naturally, the phone rang pretty much as soon as he opened his mouth. I didn’t budge from the couch. After about a minute it gave up, and then my mobile started chirping: “Chris Mobile.”

MITCH: What?
CHRIS: Answer your fucking phone!
MITCH: What the hell do you want? Obama is giving his acceptance speech!
CHRIS: Oh. What channel?
MITCH: Seven.
CHRIS: Bye.

For the first few moments, as the first black president stood there waving with his family, I had a horrible, overwhelming feeling that I was about to see him get shot in the head. Right there with his daughters, transmitted live to millions of people across the globe, glorious victory transformed to horrific tragedy in a split second. I held my breath.

It didn’t happen. And, after a while, that feeling went away.

He’s gonna be okay.

I went and bought the paper today, so I can keep it and show my kids.

It feels weird. For so long it has been the status quo to hate the U.S. government, to consider them corrupt monsters. Armchair generals who start wars, who wreak bloodshed across the Middle East, who spy on their own people, who kidnap and torture citizens of other countries. Rich men, born with silver spoons in their mouths, concerned only with their fellows in the upper tax bracket, manipulating the public, encouraging the politics of stupidity and fear and divisiveness. The worst kind of human beings.

For good presidents, for men whom we can trust and admire and respect, we have been forced to look to fiction. To characters like David Palmer and Josiah Bartlet. I watched them on the screen and I sighed and I thought, “If only.” I didn’t believe a good president was possible.

It is very, very difficult to imagine a benevolent White House. And that’s the most amazing thing about this election, at this point in time, for me personally. It has nothing to do with the fact that Barack Obama is black, though from an objective standpoint that’s clearly the biggest deal. It has everything to do with the fact that I can’t remember what it’s like to respect the President. I can’t remember what it’s like to have an intelligent man, a compassionate man, a well-educated man as the world’s leader. I can’t remember what it’s like to not roll my eyes at the President, at his idiotic cowboy demeanour, at his inability to grasp the fundamentals of the English language, at his representation of everything that is wrong with America.

Barack Obama represents everything that is right with America.

And I’m looking forward to regaining my respect not just for the man and the office, but for the nation itself.

Advertisements