Why I Care

11PM rolled around and the news was announced. Cheers were had by all in the Rocky Mountain Bar near Georgia Tech. The friends I had about me were jubilant. Dudes were able to hug one another without discomfort. We knew without a shadow of a doubt that we had to return to the AUC. Intellectual people nationwide were actually okay with listening to Young Jeezy.

We arrived at Morehouse's campus to Douglass Hall to catch the celebration of our classmates and old friends. ABC News had already featured the watch party minutes earlier. We joined crossed over hand in hand and sang our college hymn.

I walked back to my friends place to sleep for the night. I opened my computer and went to Facebook. Status updates streamed across my screen praising our new president of the United States. These updates were praise because just about all of my Facebook friends are people I have known in my college experience. My HBCU education has surrounded me largely with black people. I have known democrats. They're strongly partisan democrats and not moderate enough for me, but it was still heartwarming to see the reaction.

I write tonight not to talk about this celebration. My editorial successor and I have covered that enough last night. What I'm writing about now is about the AIM away messages and Facebook statues from people with whom I went to high school. I'm talking about the people who think this nation is making a dark turn. I'm talking about the people who believe this great country is headed for destruction. I'm not trying to convince people that voting for Sen. John McCain was a bad choice. He is a good man, a good senator, and he would have made a good president. Had he won last night, I would have been disappointed that my candidate lost, but I still would have had faith that John McCain would have been able to lead us well. I just want to convince people that we'll be okay.

I'm young. This is only the second presidential election in which I have voted. The last time, I felt I voted for the lesser of two evils. This time, I feel I voted for the greater good. I saw two candidates who were great for this nation. I saw candidates who shared the values of both parties. I saw one who was formerly transcendent of party lines and one who currently is. I saw one who had a pretty good healthcare plan and one with a better one. I saw one who was willing to lower taxes for everyone and one who lowered taxes with more fairness in mind. But I saw one who belittled the policies of my favorite president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, while I saw another who had the capacity to stand in line with FDR.

Had John McCain won the presidency, I would have rested assure in this nation. But more than that, had John McCain won the presidency, I'd still support him because he is the President of the United States. Even if I didn't respect him and his past service to this country, I would still respect the office of the president. I believe we are currently in the midst of the worst presidency since Herbert Hoover but I don't talk about assassinating George W. Bush. I don't speak like Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and call him belittling pet names. I don't speak ill of him because I respect the office of the president. Even in my distaste of him, I know this nation is still here. America is resilient. It will recover from these two wars, economic downturn, trouncing of the Constitution, and global shunning.

There are just some things I know will happen in this country? Whether or not I'm in favor of them doesn't matter. I just know things will happen down the road that are a certainty of this nation. I know we will drill in ANWR one day. I know gay people will be able to get married (although, I still say all marriages, gay or straight, should be referred to as "unions" by the government and the church should be the only entity to call "unions" "marriages"). I know Edward Norton will win an Academy Award. And I know America will always endure, at least until the Lord comes.

For people to think President-Elect Obama will bring about the destruction of America is to invalidate one's personal faith in this nation. It puts one's faith in the government as opposed to in the people who make this country so great. It heaps so much on one man without recognizing that he is merely the leader of the executive branch, not one who literally stands in place of these 300 million citizens.

We will still go to work everyday. We will still earn our wages. We will pay taxes to this country as patriots who know our duty to keep this country going. We have a new president, but we still must know that all politics are local. We still have state government, city government, county government, independent agencies, workplaces, households, and our own morals. This country will go on, whether or not President Obama leads well or not. There are at least 64 million people who hope he leads well, but will still have to take responsibilities for their own lives.

We are a nation of 300 million people who live our own lives. Our government has social policy built on the strong back of capitalism. Achievement is rewarded with currency and the rich will continue to be rich, even when taxes are applied. This is not socialism. But when the poor need help in this nation, a compassionate people should be willing to help them some to get back on their feet, not let them die off in the streets in a Darwinian fashion. When the elderly can no longer work, a compassionate nation would ensure them Social Security (and anyone who wants to cast aside all auspice of socialism, don't ever retire). When illness falls, a compassionate nation would try to help people when they are saved from cancer but the bill for the treatment is a killer. When poor children are in failing schools, a compassionate nation would improve its schools, not pass the buck with more government money to a private school, thus turning private schools into new public schools, the public schools into cesspools, and watering down American education even more (although both Obama and McCain have terrible education plans, anyway).

We have as president-elect a man who wants this to be a compassionate nation. John McCain would have done the same, but Barack Obama convinced 64 million people that he can do a better job. 56 million people disagree and that's a good thing. It means that we as a nation can work together and determine would be best for these fifty states we share. We as a nation must remember that we have a president of the entire United States, not the United States that agree with the president (as Aaron Sorkin once said).

For eight years I have disagreed with our current president, but I knew he was the president and I know that I'm still here. I know my nation is still here, limping along and renewing its strength. I have faith in my president but I know he is no messiah as the media has portrayed him. He is a part who does not represent the whole. I have faith in myself and my God who gives me strength. We are a resilient nation.

And we are a resilient nation that has elected a black man as president. I cannot deny this matters to me. When people who look like me weren't able to vote 44 years ago and now this nation can elect a person of color, one cannot deny this matters. When the majority of people who look like me are not college educated, do not have proper healthcare, have a lower life expectancy, make lower wages overall, and are typecast into limited social situations, one cannot deny the distinctiveness of these people. This is an accomplishment that cannot be denied. The American infrastructure is changing and the notation of that change does not invalidate America's past. My people were slaves and now they are not. My people couldn't vote and now one is president. My people were lynched and now they can be judges.

To note this is not racism. To note distinctiveness in race is not exclusion, it's just opening one's eyes. To judge based solely on this standard is an atrocity. But to ignore it is an atrocity almost as large. To believe that American history, to note my people's "coincidental" predilection to diabetes and sickle cell anemia, to think that culture is not formative is mere blindness. We in this nation must believe that we all have something to contribute from our backgrounds and cultures. I do not want a racist nation and I do not want a post-racial nation. This country must recognize that we are all mutually different, we are not "all the same." People are not just people. My history formed how my family raised me. My opinions have grounding in my cultural background. We do not come from the same household, the same nation, the same state. To say blacks and whites are the same is to say that Texans and Marylanders are the same. We come from different locations, we are used to different climates, we have different experiences, we have seen a different part of America. So black people are proud of this accomplishment. In time, blacks will see Obama must lead the entire nation and will not be looking out solely for black issues (and will likely gloss over many of them like any other politician, democrat or republican). This means something, but it doesn't mean everything.

This is why I care. I care because a new president was elected. I care because it proves a black man can win the hearts and minds of the nation. I care because a democrat can win in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, and Florida. I care because the people were able to look at issues and make independent decisions, not emotionally based blind party votes. I care because while the democrats have control of the House and the Senate, the republicans can still filibuster and still make an impact on this nation to ensure true bipartisanship which will come to the good of this nation. I care because the political process worked.

I care because I'm an American.

To any republican who is angry right now, remember that you, too, are an American. Disagree, that's what makes this nation great. Have meaningful discussions, that's what makes this nation great. Research opposing views and change your mind every now and again (because the more I hear about Obama's tax plan, the more I see the other side has some validity), that's what makes this nation great. Be a part of the process, because that's what makes this nation great. We are Americans and I'm glad that all of us are acting like it.

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