I hope you don’t mind that I call you Barack after almost two years of us getting to know each other.
You have been courting me, after all.
“Change is coming,” you say.
Your slogan caught on. Where I live, it seemed I couldn’t go 50 feet without running into that stylized, colorful, iconic drawing of you.
It was everywhere.
“Hope” has been the catchword this year.
Standing in lines in banks and grocery stores, in the malls and in the bars, you couldn’t help but catch sound bites from strangers whispered conversations. Not football scores or chit-chat about the weather, but Barack Obama.
It was viral.
“More of the same,” is the charge that you levied against your political opponent.
People inherently understand that accusation. A great many of us have felt that way towards politicians for a long time. It’s like that Who song: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
Our lackluster quadrennial voter turnout has belied our past apathy. The Greeks had a word for people so uninterested or ignorant toward civic life.
This election has turned us from a nation of “idiots” to a nation of active participants.
I only reluctantly mention your race, simply to call attention to what a dramatic symbol of change you’ve become. The contrast between you and Mr. Bush is quite remarkable, wouldn’t you say?
Your election represents the tacit approval of voters for drastic change. People didn’t vote for a different candidate or a different party. They voted for a different America.
They voted for the most unlikely of ideas: change from the top.
The “change” equivalent of trickle-down economics. They believe that change will eventually reach them too.
I’m not convinced that you have the ability to accomplish what they want. They might have it backwards – change may need to come from the bottom. In that case, maybe you have stimulated people to be the change that they desire.
You have four years to fulfill all this hope.
Your ability to speak and inspire may buy you another four.
But only action, resulting in substantial change will secure that whole generations of Americans, who have been so enthusiastic and active this campaign season, will not stick their heads back into the political sand.
What a heavy burden this must, be to have the hopes and dreams of an entire people deposited fully in your hands.
I have hope, though.
Hope that you’re up to the challenge.