An elderly man works in the White House through years when people like himself were dealing with all kinds of travails. He and his wife have the opportunity to vote for the first African American with a legit chance of winning, they look forward to it, discuss it eagerly, plan to defy their own infirmities and diminished mobility to get out to vote, and his wife died the day before the election. I cried a little.
An old man was married for 69 years. Saw the Great Depression, World Wars, Jim Crow, all of it. Started volunteering for Obama just to have something to do when his wife died earlier in the year. And he reflects on his own mortality and the mortality of all his peers, and the future the young people all around him were trying to forge, a future he knows he mostly won’t see. I cried a little.
My great aunt, 91 years old and very physically fragile, but mentally sharp, my 70 year old mother, and I talk on the phone election night about the things that have happened in our lives and how we felt that night, as Democrats, as Americans, and as black people. We talked about Obama’s grandmother, who didn’t make it to see the day. We all cried a little.
Jesse Jackson, a man who has said and done regrettable things over the years, but who grew up in an almost unimaginably fucked up social reality and ran a few quixotic Presidential campaigns himself, stands in a sea of cheering people with tears streaming down his face. I cried a little.
You know, maybe I’m just a big girly sap. The “superman” scene in Iron Giant makes me cry. Shadow coming over the hill at the end of Voyage Home The Longest Journey makes me cry a little. That British runner who snapped his hammy during the Olympics mid race, and his dad came down out of the stands to help him hobble across the finish line, made my cry a little. shrug
Obama is, I think, an extraordinarily gifted politician. I have no idea if he’ll be a great President. I know he’ll make decisions that will disappont me, he already has with the FISA thing. But I’ll reserve the right to be moved by the symbolism and historical import of what’s going on right now, for the nation and myself and my family.