Thursday, November 06, 2008

We Are the Ones That We've Been Waiting For

I'm still getting the hang of teaching this week and so I haven't posted anything yet, despite the fact that there is so much to post about! For the moment, it'll have to be i nobia-hu Rashne, who shares with you the excitement about the election of Barack Obama. I'll be back soon though and promise to post some things this weekend!

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Dear family and friends,

It's been forever since I wrote an e-mail but today feels like a good day. As some of you might already know, I've been in Las Vegas the past 13 days volunteering for the Barack Obama campaign. And while there was nothing glamorous about the work (it was hard work though - 12-13 hours everyday, non-stop) it was something that I marvelled at even while I was there, right bang in the middle of it. Marvelled at because of who I was working with - tons of folks from California, travelling down each weekend just to knock on doors making sure people were voting, high school students from Las Vegas who couldn't even vote arriving at 3 PM everyday like clockwork just to knock on a few more doors before they headed back to homework... people who'd travelled from as far as Alaska to turn Nevada blue (and turn it we did, by 12 points!! My county went for Barack by 20!) Last night, for an hour and a half before polls closed in Nevada at 7 PM I drove around two college freshman (and first-time voters) to knock on doors making sure everyone had voted... one of them came down from a house in tears because someone had slammed the door in her face... she was hurt and angry, but she kept canvassing until 6.50. There's been a lot said about the Obama campaign... but there's nothing like actually being a part of it to know how special it is (or was). And that's got nothing to do with Obama, per se... nobody I met thought he was the messiah, and everyone was willing to openly critique him... but I do think that there was really (and I'm not being cliched here) a hope and faith and belief that something else was possible. Even little things like not having to cringe everytime you heard the President speak, or turn the volume onto mute... that being "of the people" and "for the people" didn't have to mean you had to be anti-intellectual... and that politics didn't have to be a dirty word.

I know lots of people who are tremendously cynical about U.S. politics, indeed even about Obama... but I know that last night and today even they are awe and moved beyond measure. I can tell from the text messages I received and peoples gchat messages. :) The first phone call I received last night was from my "host mum" YB, who was an ardent Hillary Clinton supporter during the primaries and who had at one point decided not to vote in the General Election. I, among others tried to convince her about Obama... I sent her books, and articles, and ultimately a yardsign to try and convince her. I received an e-mail from her last morning saying I should be proud of her because she had made sure that 15 members of her family had voted in Ohio, and when the election was called last night, she called me in exuberance and disbelief... "he did it!"). Things may not be fantastic under an Obama presidency (life teaches us to be cynical always), but today is a beautiful day. And I do have hope that things will change, even if only just a little, because as Obama acknowledged in his victory speech las night, "This victory alone is not the change we seek — it is only the chance for us to make that change." And I know that 10 years down the line, I will look back on the last 13 days and think "wow! I was really there."

And, in other news, I defended my Master's Thesis a month ago... the culmination of a year's (sometimes painful) work... that feels good! Other than that, life goes on... I am still a student on a measely income, looking foward to the $500 tax reduction under Barack Obama's tax plan. :)

Oh, and I did attend a Michelle Obama and Barack Obama rally and got to shake both their hands! And yes, I have washed my hands... multiple times... since.

Much love to you all and do watch the video below when you get a chance.

Rashne


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