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I’ve been absent from here, for sure, but 4 days after the election and I can no longer hold my tongue. I’ve followed this election — EVERY election for that matter since I was ten years old — so closely for the last 21 months and I kept mum. This is not my nature. But this blog has always been for me, a place not to get into such personal issues but instead to focus on craft and and the community around it. Pre-election I’d wanted so badly to comment but instead focused on phonebanking, canvassing, reading DailyKos and The Daily Dish non-stop, and keeping it to myself when it came to the blogosphere. After all, there were enough far more educated people talking about and pointing out things with a concerned and controlled voice — something that I, someone so wrapped up in this for so very long just didn’t feel I could do. I just figured screaming out ‘HOPE!’ on the front page of my blog didn’t help anyone.
Now I almost regret it. I come back to this blog, from time to time, to remember my life in the past. It’s a journal of sorts for me. And now, when I’m old and looking back I’ve got nothing to remind me of my feelings leading up to November 4, 2008. But today that is all rectified.
I hadn’t planned on commenting. Obama won. I’m happy. In fact, happy just doesn’t do my feelings about this historic election justice but that’s the word I’ll go with. Happy. Just happy.
I live in a small rural town that I’ve talked about time and time again here. Farmers, factory workers, and die hard Christians make up my demographic. These are just, by default, my people. I grew up with them and I came home to them when I got pregnant with The Bug. My parents are like so many Americans, hard working people that struggle everyday. My dad is a truck driver, always has been, and my mom works for our state’s Division of Family Services. My sister, a single mom to two little girls, works for a domestic violence shelter. My little brother makes extra money to put towards college by hulling walnuts. I work for the Good Samaritan, after semi-abandoning Homegrown & The Bug because as I single mom I just don’t have the time or the strength to maintain it. My family is just like every one else here…except for that we’ve always been die-hard Democrats. Because of this fact, we are nearly alone in our town’s population in terms of who we might support in a bid for the presidency.
My friends in high school were all Republicans. They were all church-goers, highly active in their church’s youth group and to be honest, nearly every one of them was far better off financially than my family was. It wasn’t something we talked about and I was never made to feel by any of them that I wasn’t as good…but those feelings are always there. When you’re young and vying for social standing, these things are always there. And those friends have grown up with benefits that I did not have — they were all able to attend college with the financial part of that having no lasting effect on their parents, they were all able to drive brand new vehicles, and not a one of them ever worried about losing their insurance if they were forced to drop out of school. These hardships were never on their radar. This is not an indictment of my friends of old — I still love most of them dearly and their friendships to me when friendship was so important will never be forgotten. But growing up in the way that they did, regardless of what they’ve done since they’ve flown from their parent’s nest, doesn’t give them the same perspective that I have.
I have a friend that I adore dearly. She was one of my closest friends in high school and one ofthe very few who have went out of their way since we graduated to maintain a friendship with me, regardless of what continent she was living on. She is an extraordinary woman — she was a missionary and she left a life of luxury here because she felt she had a higher calling in a place where parents have a much harder time making sure their kids have dinner on the table and where one must worry if monkeys will break into your house while you’re out and steal your food. She has always fervently stated her opinions to me but never in a way that didn’t lead to a productive debate — she is kind, more kind than I could ever wish to be, and she is one of the greatest people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. In short, my friend is simply amazing. I envy her naturally caring disposition and that fact that she chose the path she did instead of the one she could have taken that was much easier and more comfortable. My respect for her abounds.
Lately she’s been been blogging about the election. And her sentiments and thoughts have sat on my brain for days and are ultimately what pushed me to write about all of this, regardless of the fact that one might argue that the election is now over and none of this really matters anymore.
Hope: v. To wish for something with expectation of it’s fulfillment.
To have confidence; trust.
Also, n. often Hope Christianity The theological virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God’s help.
Hope, to me, is sort of like faith, the faith that is so important to this friend of mine. It is an absolute blind trust, a wish that someday things will be better. Hope is one of my favorite words. And it just so happens that hope is one of the words that is so often attached to Barack Obama’s campaign. This is used my conservatives, Republicans, and in general those who disagree with his policies as sort of an anti-selling point. Those who believe in this ‘hope’ that Obama speaks of are blindly trusting the man. Hope means nothing. Hope just doesn’t fly when it comes to politicians. But hope, to me, is one of the few things that those of us struggling have left and forgive me for clinging to that. But sometimes, when I’m searching for money to buy groceries or to pay my exorbitant grocery bill that just isn’t there, all I’ve got is hope.
This friend of mine has recently written about being offended that, while she’s seen all that she’s seen in countries that are so far worse off than we are here in America, we complain that things here are so bad. I agree, to an extent. But I do not complain that there is a hole in my kitchen floor that has crudely been covered with plywood, I do not complain that the siding on our house is made of asbestos and should a tile fall off and break. sending dust into our breathing space, The Bug or I might get sick. We are lucky to have a home when so many do not so why should I lament over the state that it’s in? I do not complain that we are having peanut butter sandwiches for dinner for the second night in a row. Why should I, for we are lucky to have dinner at all. I do not complain because I do not have a car. And why would I, when so many Americans and people all over the world would love a car if for no other reason that it would give them someplace warm to rest their heads at night? I do not complain that I cannot go the mall, like my friend had stated she still sees people who complain about their lot in life doing, because I am happy that we have warm clothes for the winter when so many do not. What I’m saying is that while I know there are those citizens who are greedy and feel like they are owed more than they have because of where they were lucky enough to have been born, I am not one of those people. Most Americans, I would argue, are not either.
I can’t help but read what she’s written lately, before and after this election, and feel like she is telling those of us that believe in hope that we are greedy, asking for things which we are not entitled, and banking on a false idea with our votes. But she has never been where I have been.
So to my friend: the American people did not ‘lose in this election’. I won. After eight years of being a member of the poverty class and therefore, completely pushed aside by this current administration, I now feel like my voice matters, like it is just as important as those who reside in the top income brackets. The woman that you watched dropped her cup of Starbucks coffee in the mall parking lot because she had too many shopping bags, is not me and she is not the average American. And you seeing this one sight at a random mall in our nation’s capital and thereafter feeling ‘incredulous that three-fourths of America is scared right now’ is offensive to me, despite all of my respect for you and your views. I do not doubt there are those out there who will spend their utility bill money at the mall and then complain that the government will not help them. I do not doubt there are those that manipulate the system or perhaps even voted for ‘hope’ because they’d like more things they do not deserve or have not worked for. But my dear friend, that is not the majority of Americans that stood together on November 4, regardless of color or party afiliation and said enough. I realize that ‘change is hard to come by without some form of personal responsibility and sacrifice,’ and if anything I can thank the last eight years for teaching me that. Like so many Americans I put this campaign for change and hope on my back and I carried it to the finish line.
Let me be clear. I do not expect the government to pay my utility bill. I do not expect my government to put food on my table. I do not expect the government to cloth my son or provide me with a loan that I cannot afford. But I do expect my government, elected for the people and by the people, to look out for everyone equally, to value every citizen the same way, to afford us all the same opportunities despite your color or lot in life. I do not expect my government to end poverty. I do not expect my government to wipe out crime. I have not declared myself a victim and I do not expect my government to treat me as such. In fact, I would be offended if it did. And I am offended that you think because I am of the poverty class and because I voted for hope, that this is the reason, because as I take it, you think I want a free ride or because I do not realize how lucky we are to live in the place that we do. And I’m sure the rest of Americans that voted like me, all 65,340,608 of them, would be offended too.
Look, I realize this post is neither short-winded or eloquent. But at the close of this election it seems that those on the other side of the aisle wish to demean those Americans that hope, with all their might and with their vote, that things will one day be better here in the greatest nation in the world.
On November 4 I wept like so many Americans did. I’ve always loved my country (who here does not?!) but on that night I felt like my country loved me back, despite where I am in my life. I felt like I mattered, that I was important to a man who inspired so many at home and around the world. And to have that feeling reduced to a whine by someone who I hold in such high regard, my friend, was hard to stomach. But let us not, as a country, defeat ourselves and forget the sacrifices we shall have to make. Let us remember that times will get still harder in our future and that this will not be an easy road to recovery. And let us never forget what we, those who have been forgotten over these past few years, made this happen. That those of us that knew our country was better than these past eight years stepped up and proved it so. And never let us forget, despite the hardships, despite the mountains ahead of us, and despite those that tell us we cannot: Yes, we can.