“The road ahead will be long,
Our climb will be steep,
We may not get there in one year, or even one term,
But America, I have never been more hopeful
Than I am tonight that we will get there.”… (Prez Barack Obama, 11/4/2008)
Put down the Kleenex. Tilt your head up high. Now shout at the top of your lungs. YES WE DID!!! We Obamacrats, Americans, and world citizens can proudly puff out our chests and say we got us a really fine gem of a president. He not only served us productively during his 8-year tenure, he did so without a whiff of scandal, his diligence razor sharp, his humility and empathy never in doubt, and lit up our dreary moments with that smile and quick wit.
How many of us young and young at heart, and even detractors, can say we’ve ever been so absorbed day in and day out with any President at such a granular level, as we have Prez Barack Hussein Obama? Sure, the technologies of our age simulate such high levels of intimacy with political leaders we may never meet. But the Obamas made us live vicariously in the warm embrace of their hugs.
Beyond policy convergence, we felt their human connection to us to be genuine. Not posturing. And prior to winning the presidency, candidate Obama himself opened the sluice gates to many of us to dive into political engagement through both electronic media and human to human contact in the streets
How many of you got connected politically with complete strangers for the first time by signing up on http://www.barackobama.com and eagerly awaited David Plouffe’s weekly map update? How many of you created “Dashboard” pages on that website to organize people you knew, to volunteer, donate, host house meetings and parties, make calls, register people in the streets, enter registration data, or even quit your jobs to go to “Summer organizing school”?
Be honest, how many of us of a certain age (wink, wink) would have gotten clued in to much of Social media — Twitter, Snapchat, etc. or programs consumed mostly by millennials such as Between Two Ferns with Zack Galifianakis, and You Tube sensations like Ms. Glozell Green, Ingrid “Glamourazzi” Nilsen, Adande “sWoozie” Thorne…., and much of social media lingo, if not for Barack H. Obama?
Besides substantial policy advances, he and First Lady Michelle Obama, made us all indulge in the hip and cool. We dropped the mic and sang soul and karaoke along with them. We ooohed and aaaahed the marshmallow cannon and others at the geeky WH science exhibits. We clutched our virtual passports, got aboard Airforce One on its 400 flights, and trekked all 50 states of America and around the world with them – Dublin, Myanmar, Moneygall, Moscow, Canberra, Strasbourg, Prague, Havana, Dakar, Accra, ……
But why did many of us suspend our cynicism during the Obama presidency? Why did we believe him? The historical track record of politicians has earned that species a well-deserved cynicism. But not Barack Obama. Why? Sure, policy disagreements and all for some, but few besides his virulent opposition and rabid racists doubted his integrity.
We checked our cynicism at the door because he invited us, as thinking people, to embark on the tough journey of making America a “more perfect union” with him, warts and all. He also welcomed us to peer into the depths of his humanity (not like GW Bush looking into Putin’s soul), and many of us felt comfortable, even inspired. He was more than family even if some never physically met him. He never patronized us. He never left us out in the cold. Never.
Some of us ached with anguish when the opposition slammed the political barricades hard in his face at a time when this country teetered on the brink of economic collapse, and we thought “surely, country first, right?” Wrong.
With President Obama, many of us were jolted to the harsh reality that Republicans cared more about raw power than America’s wellbeing. They dragged us through an orgy of vileness on every front imaginable. Worst of all, the electorate rewarded them up and down this country with more power to destroy all the pillars of democracy and human rights that had been fought for with blood and toil. What country is this!
As a naturalized American citizen, whose very first vote in this country was for candidate Obama during the 2008 Democratic primaries, I, along with many of you feel a certain sense of co-ownership of the Obama presidential journey. It was us at our very best! We chose well. Eight years, no scandals. NONE! Competence, class, dignity, vision, empathy, real accomplishments.
Barack Obama is the stuff legends are made of. And we were lucky to witness it, and co-write this chapter of America’s story. So yeah, tilt that chin up. Y’all did good.
“Hard things are hard,” is inscribed on a plaque in the Obama White House. Yep, they are. And once achieved they must be safeguarded with hawk eyes, else a Trump wrecking ball overruns us.
But as President Obama said, we’re just getting started. We’re not gonna turn him into a fossil to gaze at on a pedestal in a shrine. As CITIZENS our task, our vigilance shifts to second gear tomorrow. Foot to the pedal. Stay Woke.
P.S. Our gratitude knows no bounds for Chips and NerdyWonka, who captained this incredible electronic corner of bliss and sanity for our journey with the Obama Family, in a sea of venom. Thank you thank you, thank you.
And kudos to all you fellow travelers on this site. You made this Obama story possible. You made it fierce. Let’s ALL #staywoke.
Pete Souza: Vice President Joe Biden greets 99-year-old Ruth Bonner, a daughter of a young slave who escaped to freedom, as Dr. Jill Biden greets another generation of the Bonner family who rang the Freedom Bell with the President and First Lady to mark the official opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Pete Souza: President Obama greets the Tennessee State University Marching Band at the White House following a reception for the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The band entertained arriving guests on the South Lawn.