Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Happened Last Night

This is not a political blog, but hey, yesterday we had the election. Its what's happening on the Byway. I wasn't planning on writing anything about it, but when I checked my email this morning I had all of these CNN update emails from the election results last night and reading them I was left thinking - WOW.

Why wow? Well, of course there is the fact that Obama was elected for a second term. I voted for him. I was pretty sure he would win. But more than that. Here are some of the things that came from this election. Same-sex marriage legal in Maryland (my former home state), and Maine! Legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state (I didn't think I would see that in my life time). Massachusetts will now allow medical marijuana use. In Wisconsin the first openly gay senator. A record 20 women will take Senate seats! Virginia went democratic for the second time - before that the state had 10 consecutive republican presidential wins. Some pretty interesting and progressive stuff. Some wow stuff.

But of course we remain a house divided. Painfully divided. Democrats retain a majority in the senate and Republicans retain control of the House of Representatives. The anger I've seen and heard leading up to this election is awful. It is so weird. Because I feel like our country has been slipping backward in tolerance and cooperation. Everybody's shouting loudly. I worry about the rhetoric and the misinformation and the division.

I understand there are a lot of disappointed folks out there who dislike Obama and wanted Romney to win or just wanted anyone to win besides Obama. Well to them I say - I may not agree with you or understand why you dislike Obama so much, but I can understand how you are feeling. Because I felt this way when Bush won his second term. I was in shock, disbelief, sad, angry, frustrated. I could not fathom how anyone with a brain who read and breathed the air could have voted that man into a second term. Perhaps you feel that way about me right now. I hate to sound so dramatic, but it was the one point in the life time of politics I've lived through that I felt the lowest. No wonder Obama won in such a landslide that first term, with his campaign of hope and change. We were all so disgusted and tired from that eight years of nonsense, it was like a rebirth and a chance to try to start changing and fixing things.

During those eight years of the Bush administration I was ashamed of my country and my nationality. I am not afraid to say that because I love this country and its beautiful history and people.  I feel grateful every day that I am an American. I've spent a lot of time outside of America working in other countries and I see how lucky we are, how lucky I am. There but for the grace of God go I. Had I been a woman born in many of the places I've worked, unless I had been born to one of the wealthy, elite families, I'd probably be dead by now. And my life would have been brutal. But during those eight years, I was ashamed. I stopped being ashamed when we elected Barack Obama. I am proud to be an American when I have a leader I can respect.

Oh I have my issues with Obama's first term. There are things he did that I did not like. There are things he did not do. But overall I feel he did a decent job in a very tough situation cleaning up the mess that was left to him. He needs four more years to keep up what he started. So now he can get back to it.

Is my liberalism showing? :) Last night I was thinking about how every state I've lived in over my life time is pretty much a democratic state, except for one: Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and now California. The only one not like the others? Utah, where I lived for two years before moving to California. I loved living in Utah and I love that place, although it did feel odd to live in such a conservative state, especially as every place else I've lived is so liberal. Also, every other state where I've lived has such a huge, diverse population. Utah has such a small population and much of it very homogenous. I found that fascinating.

I know that some of my Utah family and friends were hoping Romney would win. I could have lived with a Romney win. It was not my choice, but I could have lived with it. But of course I am happy that Obama won and I am happy about all the other "wow" results of last night's election. It gives me hope for our country and our future. I hope people will defuse the anger and focus on cooperation.

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