This afternoon, I enjoyed a meeting with SJSU peer mentors, a chance to chat about our reflections on the Obama victory. I was struck by the number of students who talked about the feeling of hope they have. I'm not talking about slogans or bumper stickers but rather a visceral awareness that something has changed, that things can improve.
This has been a rough decade for us. We've had several "everything has changed" moments, and none have been for the better. Terrorist attacks and economic turmoil have threatened to quash our native sense that tomorrow will be better than today. We watch television shows like The Daily Show and The Cobert Report, laughing at the inanity of our political leaders, but many of us recognize that something has gone terribly wrong in America. It's not funny.
And then we manage to elect Barack Obama. Despite the so-called "Bradley Effect." Despite crooked congressional districts. Despite robo-calls. Despite fear-mongering. Despite pamphlets reminding Democrats to vote on November 5th . . . We manage to get it right.
This Obama guy is no superhero. He's the first to admit it. There are no guarantees that he and his administration will set things right. Moreover, we face a range of emerging threats that may yet dwarf the problems already besetting us. Still, there is hope today that we didn't feel before the election.
Perhaps we can get it right.
For me, the feeling of the Obama victory is something like the optimism that many Americans must have had when we elected JFK: the torch being passed to a new generation. The Cold Warriors and Me-Generationers had their chance.
Change is coming.