Or Changefest ’08, as The Daily Show apparently took to calling it:
As suggested by Paul Krugman in a letter to Rolling Stone (which, I realize, doesn’t actually sound that interesting, but hey, I’m taking a class on economics):
It’s worth remembering:
(feed readers: swing by the blog to see)
Also worth remembering: that tomorrow is not so much a victory as an opportunity. That it is not nearly so much a culmination as it is a beginning. My greatest hope for the coming Obama administration is that it will help to remind us that the struggle hasn’t ended and may never be over, and that its burden is on our shoulders. That we shall not be lifted lest we lift each other up.
“Forgive that they teared down my soul
Bless them that they might grow old
A dream that’s forgotten may know
That it’s never too late.”
-”Madagascar,” lyrics by W. Axl Rose.
I mean, it should be, shouldn’t it? “By getting more electoral votes than the other guy.”
Back when I was younger, I always used to like to think of movies I wanted to see and then cast them in my head. This was in the nineties, and one of the major objects of my hobby was always an X-Men movie. While that has come and gone, I remember that pretty much the only character from my dreamcast who made it to the movie was Patrick Stewart as Professor X. Bearing in mind this was the mid-90s, I’d always thought Kurt Russell and Gates McFadden would have made a terrific Cyclops and Jean Grey, respectively, while Jean Claude Van Damme was at that time popular enough, short enough, and Canadian enough to seem like a good choice for Wolverine.
I can’t say I’ve stopped. I still would love for Gore Verbinski to buy my adaptation of Macbeth and direct it with Christian Bale as the titular character and with a supporting cast including Cate Blanchett, Sean Bean, Dougray Scott, Angelina Jolie, and Anthony Hopkins. That’d be so, so rad. Imagine the swordfights of Pirates of the Caribbean but in medieval Scotland (which, admittedly casts the setting a solid several hundred years post Scottish play, but whatevs).
And now that President-elect Barack Obama (God, there’s a lovely ring to that) is considering his cabinet members, I have, too. I think it’s really important, too, because these are people chosen, rather than elected, and you can tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps. The cabinet consists of 15 members (You can find the current list here): they are the Secretaries of Agriculture, the Interior, Commerce, Justice, Defense, Labor, Education, State, Energy, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Treasury, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development.
Now, there are a couple I wouldn’t even venture a guess toward, like Agriculture or Interior or Commerce. But a couple of the others? I’ll start with the ones I’d certainly offer:
Secretary of Labor: John Edwards. Don’t care that he had an extramarital affair. I’d at least ask him.
Secretary of Defense: General Wesley Clark. Dude’s awesome, and seems to know what he’s doing.
Secretary of Homeland Security: Richard Clarke. Because Against All Enemies is, by all accounts, genius. He was counter-terrorism czar for a while, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State until he “retired.” Thing is, dude is only a couple years older than my father. Again, I’d at least ask him.
Now here’s the thing: I considered John McCain in one of those. I think I’d want John McCain in my cabinet. Thing is, you can’t very well offer either post to the man who joked about Bomb-bomb-bombing Iran. So I think that what I’d do is ask McCain to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs, but also increase the synergy between the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veteran’s Affairs. They seem related, after all.
Secretary of State: Bill Clinton.
Secretary of Education: Hillary Clinton.
Now, I wrestled over this one. But Hillary wrote It Takes a Village, and education has always been near to her heart.
Secretary of Energy: Al Gore. Because we need new energy if we want to end global warming, which is his cause and all, and hey, the man invented the Internet, so I’m sure he could come up with something (that’s a joke. I know he didn’t actually build these here tubes). And shit, dude won a Nobel, no? And for Peace? I would so totally want a Nobel Prize winner in my cabinet.
Secretary of Treasury: Paul Krugman. Hell, why not two Nobel Prize winners? Dude is the latest winner for economics. He’s got to know something. I’ve heard Warren Buffett’s name mention a couple of times, though, and I’m sure he’d be good.
I wish I could figure out who my attorney general would be. We’ve been in desperate need of a good one for several years. But I don’t know enough about law to know whose name should be mentioned here. But I can tell you what I’d want: an expert in constitutional law, and someone unafraid to follow it closely. Someone unafraid to denounce torture as an interrogation technique. Also, would it be this guy’s job to introduce legislation to abolish the electoral college and revise the way voting works? Because I think we need that guy, too.
So those are my big choices, I think. Looking over it, it seems to lean slightly left, but I left several slots unfilled, and I’d definitely try to balance the cabinet in filling those.
I know I got very wrapped up in the election and discussing it. I hadn’t meant to. I hadn’t meant to avoid it, exactly, but I hadn’t realized I would become so focused on it. I think I got so wrapped up in it because McCain/Palin scared me so much, and because I thought there was so much at stake.
A lot of it was wrapped up in my feelings about September 11th. I realized that before, but watching Obama’s acceptance speech drove it home. I’m only 30 and ain’t been alive long, arguably, and missed some major cultural milestones. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think any man has walked on the moon so long as I have been alive. The sixties are full of a lot of cultural imagery that will only ever be grainy footage to me; JFK and RFK and MLK. I came in at the tail end of the seventies, and missed free love and freer sex. While I enjoy the Beatles music in some ways, I still don’t see what the big fuss was about, and by the time I came around, Elvis was gone, too. I enjoy few movies made before 1980, Star Wars being the most notable example.
Still, the other night, watching Obama accept the presidency, I thought of what I have seen. I saw a black man become president of the United States, and while I know that racism is in many ways still alive and perhaps too healthy in America, I think it’s the surest sign there’s hope.
I remember this, too:
Which was in 1987. Two years later, in August 1989, 28 years and one day after it was constructed, that wall came down:
I think a lot of us had that feeling first thing Wednesday morning, just after midnight.
The end of one era, and the beginning of a new one.
(I’ve just realized, too, that 28 years and three days after I was born, I left for USC. That’s kinda neat)
Because the other momentous thing I’ve seen during my lifetime is something that too often hurts too badly to talk about too much. A few weeks ago, I caught the premier for Life on Mars, a show by which I was singularly unimpressed save for a single moment:
I often feel like that day started a time of corruption and incompetence carried through 7 long years. Seven years during which America lost internationally most of what reputation it had, invaded countries it had no right to attack, ‘defending freedoms’ it had already taken away anyway.
I don’t know what Obama will do, nor what he will change. I don’t know that he will be a good president. But I think he has both dignity and integrity, two things the office of the presidency have been sorely lacking for a long, long time (and not just during this past administration. I like Clinton, but dignity and integrity are not words that come to mind when he does), and I feel comfortable enough with the next four years (at least) in his hands.
I don’t think much will change for a while; Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Berlin Wall didn’t fall the day after Mr. Reagan challenged Mr. Gorbachev. Then again, September 12th, 2001 saw the sun rise on a world completely changed from the one that had existed just 24 hours before, so who knows?
I don’t. But here’s the thing:
While I don’t remember much about the morning of September 11th up to, say, 8:50 or so, it is because that day at that point in my life was unremarkable, which means it was a good morning. It was a morning on which I woke up a little later than I wanted, brushed my teeth, walked a block up to the PATH station at Journal Square. It was a morning I walked from Herald Square at 34th and 7th to my office at 40th and Madison, and if I don’t remember anything out of the ordinary during that several block trek, I will claim it was a good one, because those walks were, back then. They weren’t all sunshine and roses, of course (not many rosebushes on the streets of Manhattan), but after that morning, those walks were different, and they disappeared all together several weeks later.
I cried when I watched Obama’s acceptance speech, just like I cried when Hillary Clinton spoke at the DNC. I cried when I watched McCain concede. Not because I was so happy, though there was that, but because I was feeling something with which I had been unfamiliar for so long. I watched the polls and results with hope but also with caution, and even posted over at Making Light that I would believe it only when he took the oath of office.
Because the thing is, when you’re so scared, when you feel so beaten down, when you get so wound up and anxious, if you feel that way long enough, it can be hard to give it up. Watching Obama speak, I started to give it up. I started to let the sun shine in again. I started to feel myself open again, and that’s something I haven’t felt in a long, long time. Watching Obama speak, I started to realize that things might not always be so dark as I felt they were.
Then again, I also know that I may well be projecting my personal feelings onto those of the country as a whole. I took this election more personally than I took the one in 2004 because I’ve changed in the years since. In 2004, I was working as an assistant editor and living in my parents’ basement; this just a couple of years after I had graduated college with all the promise in the world and gotten a great gig at a prestigious advertising agency. In a way, I think I felt I was going backward if I ever felt much at all, because I know at times I was going just to go, doing just to do, coasting through to get by. This year was personal because I don’t feel that way. I’m working and living and doing. I’ve stopped waiting around for life to happen and started to make things happen, and I think I projected some of that feeling onto the election. I think I felt as though, since I was changing, the world should, too, somehow, in however small or large a way.
I think, too, I felt ready.
I don’t know what the future will hold. I don’t know what tomorrow will be.
But just the hope of it makes me smile at the possibility.
For now, that is something. For now, it is enough.
334 electoral votes (at last count) later, this is no longer what you might call a victory. It’s now pretty much a blow out. What Obama did last night is called “winning decisively” or, alternately, “handing John McCain his ass.” McCain was gracious about it, accepting the failure as his own during his concession speech, and Obama, for his part, remained dignified and concentrated not on himself but on us. Which is why, I think, he was so galvanic.
I think few of his supporters believe he won last night.
I think we believe we won. He just happens to be our candidate, because he has risen up to become our voice. In him we see ourselves at our very best, and the hope to lead our country to its very best.
In him, I believe, we see the living embodiment of a dream:
That all men are created equal, and that we may live in a society in which we are judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. I’ve noticed that pretty much every media source in the country notes the historicity of his race, that he is the very first African American elected president, but I wonder if that does a disservice to what he has truly accomplished. Because he proved so decisively that what truly counts is the person, the candidate, and not the race or the creed or the gender. What matters is action and speech, thought and gesture, and I don’t believe Obama won despite that he is Black; I believe he won solely because, for once, people set color and race aside to focus on what truly matters.
And I think that’s beautiful.
403 years ago today (by my count, but remember of course how terrible I am at math), on 5 November, 1605, Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up Parliament was foiled.
In following years, Fawkes came to regarded more as a hero than as a terrorist. “Guy Fawkes was the only man ever to enter parliament with honest intentions” became a common saying, and in 2002, the BBC ranked him 30th among the 100 Greatest Britons of all time.
Later, Alan Moore used the Fawkes mask in V for Vendetta, which is an awesome movie:
Watching it always makes me tear up. Particularly this scene:
It fills me with a sense of joy and elation, a feeling of possiblity and hope.
The same feeling that filled me last night, first when I saw Barack Obama pull ahead in the polls, and then again when I saw ABC News projecting him as the winner. I didn’t want to believe it; I’ve witnessed two presidential debates that were hijacked within a few hours, or which called for greater deliberation that meant they couldn’t be decided for days or weeks.
But then I saw the rumor that McCain had called Obama to concede, which I found on the Associated Press site.
And then I watched the concession speech.
And that was when it finally started to sink in:
This might really be happening. This could be real.
Given the state of things, I remain cautiously optimistic. I will remain worried about waking up to find something awful has happened. Probably for a while.
But cautious optimism is optimism nonetheless, and of all the rare commodities lately in light of the financial crisis, hope might have been rarest of all.
Evey is right, in that clip up above. The pundits will say this was all about the economy, and partly about race, but I think it was about more than that. It was not just about hope but also ideas, and Evey is right that you cannot kiss an idea, nor touch it, nor hurt it. Ideas do not bleed, nor feel pain.
The same can be said for change. You cannot touch nor hold change.
You can only be it.
And now, we have our chance.
Yes we can.
Yes we did.
Yes we will.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
The power and audicity of change.
I can think of no reason
In this autumn season
To doubt or question its range.
Barack, Barack, ’twas his intent
To defeat McCain for president.
Three hundred college votes select
Obama president elect.
By people’s choice he will now lead
A great country toward its greater dreams.
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let freedom ring.
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let choirs sing.
Just to make it official, you know:
That’s called Barack and Roll.
Here is the half-hour long Barack Obama video that aired before the World Series tonight:
I can’t speak for the whole thing, because I didn’t watch it; I’ve already voted, because I already knew how I wanted to vote. But if you’re undecided, it’s worth watching.
By now I’m sure we’ve all heard that the Republican campaign spent $150,000 on new clothes for Sarah Palin on her being named as McCain’s running mate. Here’s the LA Times commenting on it (link via It’s All One Thing).
I’m more surprised people are surprised by this. By Republican standards, $150,000 is an absolute bargain, considering it’s roughly half what Cindy McCain’s RNC outfit cost.
It’s become apparently newsworthy enough that the GOP is issuing statements concerning it. McCain says she needed new clothing, I guess either because she didn’t have enough, as governor of Alaska, or because everything she owned was maternity wear. They also claim all the clothes will be donated back to charity, by which I suppose they mean PUMA for Hockey Moms or somesuchlike.
To be honest, I don’t care, though I do so enjoy the fact that during the midst of an economic crisis verging on absolute collapse, John McCain can’t keep track of how many homes he earns and Sarah Palin spends very nearly more in a few weeks on clothing than I have so far earned during my entire professional career (and I’m 30. Which probably says a lot about my professional career, or sometimes lack thereof). The only thing I care about is that she’s a total hypocrite. Because here’s the Yahoo! news story in which she denies the rumors and then says that:
It’s kind of painful to be criticized for something when all the facts are not out there and are not reported.
Which reminded me a lot of this video:
From back in March when she “offered Hillary Clinton advice on how to campaign” by criticizing Clinton for a “perceived whine.”
Please may this woman disappear just as quickly as she appeared in the first place.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go early vote. And by ‘early vote,’ I mean cast my ballot for “that one.” And by “that one,” I mean Barack Obama.