05 November 2008

Thank you America.


"Friend --

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,

Barack"

I was born in 1973. I grew up in a family with a lot of political talk in the background while I played on the floor. There were politicians on both sides of my family. Both Republican and Democrat. I have no memory of a time when any kind of majority was in agreement. I have no memory of a time when the President was a person admired by all or even many. The shadow of Nixon, Watergate and Vietnam still lingered when I was a kid. Ford was portrayed as a clown. Carter had his missteps. Reagan with Iran Contra. Bush Sr. with going backwards on "read my lips". Clinton with Lewinsky and an impeachment. Bush Jr. with... well... where to begin? The Presidency has never inspired a lot of hope or confidence in my lifetime.
I'm a cynical person and often lean toward paranoia. I don't consider myself a pessimist. I am a hopeful person that works for the best but plans for and expects the worst. I am the post Nixon generation that expects the worst from our government. I am Gen X. I am a Slacker. Aggressively apathetic. Apathy not as a cop out or an escape but as a defense mechanism.
All my life I have heard that the USA would never have a black president. I heard this from people much smarter than I. Teachers, professors and leaders. They were not racists. They were realists. History was on their side. There was nothing to prove them wrong and I have to admit, I think I believed them. A year ago I did not believe in Barack Obama. I just couldn't see it. I supported Hillary Clinton but that had nothing to do with Obama. I passionately want to see health care fixed in this country and Clinton had been fighting that fight for the entirety of her political career and I wanted to see her take it to the next level. I also did not think Obama could beat a Republican. I overestimated the Republican machine. I had lost hope. The Democrats had failed to beat Bush in 2004 (at least by enough to negate some Rovian shenanigans in Ohio) so how could Obama beat them now? I feared that Obama could not carry the same large states that he lost to Clinton. And as much as I overestimated the Republican machine I underestimated the American people. I did not think you could turn those Red states Blue.
Barack Obama has proven me wrong. He has proven a great many people wrong. But more than that he has proven that the American Dream is real. It was always just an idea to me. I had never seen it happen. I had only seen the rich get richer and our government controlled by the same faces. But today I am hopeful and excited and energized. I believe that the United States is the democracy it has claimed to be. That the American Dream can be a reality. That in America, anything can happen. This morning my wife and I were able to show my daughter the video of Obama's speech and show her something I was told would never happen.  I have seen it manifested and it is a great thing. It is a great day to be an American.

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith
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