Last night, when CNN officially called the election, announcing that Barack Obama had won a second term, I immediately burst into tears. I don’t mean I got a little teary-eyed, or that my throat closed in a little with the emotion.
Literally, truly, I was bawling tears of joy.
My reaction surprised me. Not the happiness- I knew I’d be thrilled if my President was re-elected- but my deep and utterly overwhelming emotional response caught me off guard.
I’ve always supported Obama, ever since I’ve known who he was. Like me, Obama is bi-racial, has a background in the United Church of Christ, and was raised by his white mother. We’re kindred spirits, it seems. When Barack Obama was elected President four years ago, it had a deep impact on me. I thought, “Now, when I tell my two beautiful Black-Women-in-Training that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up, I can finally mean it.”
What I only recently realized is how afraid I was. I was hearing- whether I wanted to or not- constant banshee cries from the Tea Party and racist right-wing America about how horrible Obama is; I listened to co-workers, friends and in some cases even family railing against him, calling him a
nigger socialist, a radical Christian, a terrorist Muslim, anti-American (hell- they didn’t even believe he is an American) and anything else derogatory they could come up with. I watched the members of the Republican Party dole out more hatred and disrespect on their President’s head (he wasn’t just my President, after all) that it broke my heart, and I started to hurt.
For the first time in my life, my leader- my representative- was someone I truly related to on multiple levels. My love and respect was deep and unerring- and people hated him because he is black. When they realized they couldn’t get away with saying that out loud, they flipped the script and began to lie, accusing Barack Obama of horrible things, and none of it was true. I listened to elected officials tell the entire world that their number one priority was to make sure Obama was a one-term President- not dealing with failing banks, a corrupt Wall Street, rising unemployment, a healthcare crisis, ending the wars or bringing our troops home- but removing the Negro from office.
I began to feel afraid. I started to believe that maybe it was all a fluke. Maybe it wasn’t a sign of progress after all, that we’d managed to elect him. Maybe it was merely a case of the perfect storm- a crazy set of circumstances. Perhaps the nation simply refused to take its chances on another G.W. Bush, instead choosing- fleetingly- to vote a monkey into office out of desperation, so long as he name wasn’t Bush.
I didn’t think we could do it again. It was so sad, listening to Mitt Romney try to campaign “for the people” of America. If he wasn’t outright offending half of the nation, he was changing his mind, flip-flopping, and pandering to those who understood his fears better than anyone- White America. I knew the only reason the GOP could run an absolute parody of a politician like Mitt Romney and still have a close election was because of racism.
Pure and simple.
I really believed the hate mongers had it this time.
I thought they’d won.
When it dawned on me- slowly, after I realized Obama had taken Ohio on election night- that they hadn’t won at all, I was overcome. Hate and bigotry did not win last night. Yet again, Americans chose Barack Obama.
It was not a fluke.
We did it on purpose.
Congratulations, Mr. President. Yes. We. Did.