It’s been a long time since I was excited about politics.
I won’t be melodramatic and say it’s been “a full four years,” but it’s been more than two…
Maybe it’s working at msnbc, where I’m constantly pilloried with political soundbites, promises, attacks, double-crossing, double-talk, and double demagoguery. Maybe it’s my age, you get to 28 and you have to put some childish naivete away. You stop believing in the conquering hero, and the knight in shining armor. The last few years have been particularly hard on twenty-somethings, who are no longer sure that they’ll ‘do better’ than their parents.
And working on The Dylan Ratigan Show didn’t help. I spent almost every day digging through the ugly undercarriage of U.S. politics. When you hear that freshman senators and congressmen are told “Raise X-thousand dollars before you even THINK about writing a bill.” You have to re-evaluate the way you think about the people running our country. It’s sad. Even an affordable health care deal comes with tithes to huge pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
The RNC probably should have appealed to me. The speeches about a new direction and a change of course should have resonated. But the tone seemed to be geared towards people that are angry. I’m not angry. I don’t feel like I’m riding some runaway train that’s leapt off the rails. This isn’t dystopia. I just care less. I needed somebody to appeal to those of us feeling like a battery in need of a charge. Those of us that feel like things aren’t great, but don’t feel like we’re going to hell in a handbasket, either.
Which is why the DNC did appeal to me. This is a Radio Raheem election, pump up your base to show-out. Julian Castro, Michelle Obama, Bubba, and Barack. That was a lineup you can get behind. Hell, even John Kerry threw some Tabasco on his speech. Clinton broke down the attacks from Republicans, laid out the achievements and policies of the Democrats, and offered affirmation that we’re on the right path.
And then the President cleared the bases with the kind of speech that gets you fired up, even if you’re just getting fired up to hold on tight. As he spoke about the long, long road we’re on, and how it’s taking us to a better place, and how we have to stand up if we don’t want our government paid-for, and how everyone should get their fair shot, and their fair share, and pitch in, and work together - I felt myself getting excited again. A light flickered, and I started to feel like I could look forward - to the ‘horizon’, if you will - and believe that something better was out there for me. For us. I watched it twice, I hit rewind a couple of times to my favorite parts, and felt a chill when his voice broke towards the end… I wanted to cheer.
But I’m not a kid anymore. I’m not the college student I was when then-Senator Barack Obama came to Boston College, and I’m not the 24 year old swept up in the 2008 election. My love of language and performance allow me to enjoy the speech, and be touched by it… but the last few years keep me from truly believing it. I don’t know how much of that is the President’s fault, or the government’s fault. I don’t know how much is just life’s weathering.
I was excited last night, listening to Barack Obama. I’ll probably vote for Barack Obama. But I need more than words and promises.