Let me make it clear: I love this man, and I hope with both of the hearts beating in me that he becomes President. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say I’m proud to be an American without a twinge of sarcasm (along with deep, abiding guilt, which I’ll touch on later), and I think that he will restore my love in a country that is deeply wounded.
So tonight, Chris and I were snuggled on the couch watching CNN’s Candidates Revealed series, since we missed the first broadcast, and every once in awhile Chris would mutter, “Fucking elitist.” Then we’d both laugh. How can anyone in the American public earnestly put the ‘elitist’ label on this man? A mixed race man born to a single mother, raised in a community without strong role models of his father’s race, one who lost his way as so many of us did on the way to becoming an adult? We learned that for his first job out of college (which was not, btw, Harvard), he bought a junky car just so he could get around and be a community organizer. We learned about him helping a development where asbestos lingered in the homes — but the government only planned to remove it from the manager’s office, and not even inform anyone else; Obama helped these people organize and have their homes made safe. How can you label someone like that elitist? I’m pretty sure that under any other circumstances, people would applaud selflessness and courage. In fact, some might even toss around that overplayed ‘hero’ title that has so saturated our media over the past seven years.
My child will be born in Canada, but will have dual citizenship with the US. I am a first-generation American and feel a great deal of guilt that I am not more grateful for this fact; my grandfather legally brought his wife, his son, and his 4 year old daughter to the shores of the US back in 1965, via a boat ride that was months long. Though none of them spoke English, my grandfather found a job and worked his ass off so his family could prosper. They all learned English. His children went to American schools, and his daughter grew up to be my mother. Because of her family’s old-world values, she was not close to her father growing up, but these days, he plays a huge, loving role in her life and in the life of all his grandchildren. He and his son, my uncle, are the strong male role models in my life, the ones I look up to as ideals of what a father and husband should be. It cuts me to the core to think of telling my grandfather, who worked so hard to establish his family here because life would be better, that I am glad to have moved out of the US. That I feel his first great grandchild would be better off living in Canada, because at least here “liberal” isn’t a smear.
Barack Obama is just a man. But his ideals, the ones I share and need the Supreme Court to share, fill me with pride. When I know that America is on the path to a brighter future, where the citizens are its most treasured possession and are no longer the butt of jokes world-wide, then I will honestly be able to say that yes, I am PROUD to be an American.
Until then, this Canadian flag pin will stay lonely on my wallet.