Monday, November 10, 2008

What the 2008 Election Means to Me

After four years of avoiding the news out of desperation, I haven't been able to stop reading it since Tuesday night's election results. I used to be a voracious news reader. It was the first thing I did in the morning, and the last thing I did at night. I looked forward to graduating from college, getting my own apartment, and having the paper delivered to my front door every day. I dreamed about lazy brunches over the weekend edition. But with President Bush's election and the right-wing's ascendancy, I had a hard time stomaching the news. It was just too awful to bare. I felt detached from the rest of the country who had supported Bush and had seemed to bully the media into cowardly news reports (no photos of the coffins returning from Iraq?). I felt even more frustrated that the horrific attack on our country, that happened in my backyard, was being used to wage a senseless preemptive war and was used a rallying cry for a patriotism that was exclusive. By 2004, it seemed clear to me that Bush's policies were failing in many ways, and I was optimistic that Kerry would win. But he didn't. And that's when I really abandoned the news.

But now I can't stop reading and listening. I can't get enough. I watch news clips online about children across the country watching Obama's acceptance speech and what it means for them; I read op-ed pieces about what a historic night Tuesday was; I settle in each night for Keith Olberman and (especially) Rachel Maddow; I don't mind watching the Daily Show (I know this isn't news, but still a place to learn about the scary things your government is doing) because the jokes don't underline how illogical our government is; I read articles in full, rather than just glance at the headlines.

The election of Obama gives me much hope for the future of America on so many levels. But, for me, personally, three things in particular make me excited. First, as someone who is multiethnic, I like that our president-elect has compared his family gatherings to meetings at the UN. For years I have fielded questions like, “What is your nationality?” and “Where are your parents from?” While I like talking about my family’s background, it's always struck me as odd that for a country that was built by immigrants, the idea of a multiethnic background hasn't been normalized. Why, I am a citizen of the United States, of course, and my parents were born in Brooklyn!

Another thing that I am happy about is that the country has seemed to, for now at least, rejected the anti-intellectualism of the Bush presidency. Nicholas Kristof wrote a great piece about this yesterday. We need a well-educated, hard-working, thoughtful leader who is interested in the world around him and can appreciate advice from a broad spectrum of experts and then use his intellect (not his faith or gut) to arrive at a decision. And, what is also great, is that while Obama and his wife both attended top-notch Ivy League schools, they did so in a way quite different from Bush. They worked hard, won scholarships, and graduated at the top of their classes.

And, finally, I am proud that American has elected its first Columbia College alum! I am sure that the Core Curriculum has prepared him well.
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