I remember that feeling of relief, hope, and happiness because I felt a part of something. Every time Barack Obama spoke on TV I stopped and listened because for the first time the candidate for president not only looked relatable but his likability and charisma were enough to cross both sides of the aisle. He was smooth, intelligent, and compromising but he didn’t let himself be pushed around. Barack wasn’t perfect. His presidency had quite a few flaws but he instilled hope in the party that hasn’t been felt since he left office. We made history and then we set the bar so high that when he left it felt like the party was over. Now our standards are too high, the party isn’t hip enough, the music is wrong, and we can’t even get everyone in the party to show up let alone agree on some core issues.
Did that hope leave when Obama left the White House? I’ve voted in every election after his presidency no matter how big or small the election and something is different. Sure, I get the invitation and the literature to vote but voting for Obama didn’t feel like a hostage situation. “Vote or else,” meant we’d end up with a guy who stumbled his words at a debate or had some tiny dark secret in his past that wasn’t nothing compared to the extreme politics we have today. Now I vote because I have to and it’s my civic duty and there’s someone on the opposing side threatening my civil liberties. I vote with very little hope that things will change because this two-party system has become less about the American people and more about getting the numbers in the house and the senate. I know that past Republicans weren’t as extreme as they are now but there has to be some core values that we can all agree on. No one should be homeless, hungry, and unhealthy in a country that has so much to offer. Sure, we voted for senate, governor, and state representatives yesterday but today we go back to our jobs and we cry about stretching a dollar further than we ever have and it just doesn’t make sense.
What is the end goal if we keep just thinking about voting state by state because it’s a numbers game? Voters are not numbers they are taxpayers who are at their wit’s end just wanting our democracy to do better. It’s frustrating to know a problem exists, know the solution, and bring it to the house and or senate to never be seen. Core values are just collecting dust on a desk of someone who doesn’t have to worry about stretching their paycheck to avoid starving for lunch. We vote again and again expecting someone to spot the flaws in a system that won’t vote on things like term limits because they’re busy protecting their own interests.
So we wake up today slightly hungover from watching the election numbers with more hope than before hoping to give democracy one more chance. We celebrate our wins in hope that change will happen. Change will come. Just slower than we hoped. Someone will see that the people are suffering and care about it. Until then the party will be filled with more room than people, several competing bands playing at the same time making noise that no one hears, and a budget so astronomical that we’re shocked that no one wanted to attend our party in the first place.
We sigh a breath of relief this time until another election comes and yet another attack on democracy pushes us further away from the issues. I hope it becomes less about attending parties in the future and we can actually be a party. I hope that election day energy carries on for newly elected officials. I hope that these people pride themselves in being not only just but ethical. We have to build that energy and hope that hope will return to stay.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama