Obamamania in the Aftermath of the US Elections

Barak Obama and Rahm Emanuel
I’m not an American, though I have good friends who are, and I also live with one. Two years ago, I barely knew who Barack Obama was. Things have changed since then.

Two months ago, my partner and I were planning a vacation. We thought of Cuba, but ruled that out as he has an American passport, and would not be legally allowed to enter Cuba. So we went to Mexico instead. And in an artisan’s market in a small town in the state of Chiapas, a vendor who was trying to sell me a string of turquoise told me that it would cost me 300 pesos if I were “Asian, Italian, or anyone else” and 500 if I were American. Such were his sentiments towards America, and they echoed those of people in many other parts of the world. It wasn’t an advantage to travel internationally on an American passport in those days.

I’ve never been terribly interested in politics, or particularly inspired by politicians. I make sure to vote in national and civic elections, but have never experienced election fever the way I have in these past two months in the final stages of the US elections – glued to my computer for at least an hour every morning reading and watching every bit of news I could find, then checking throughout the day, hungry for information about each of the candidates...phew! I am glad that’s all over, though I am experiencing some withdrawal symptoms – a loss of focus, a lethargic elation, a feeling of confusion...can I get through the day without livefeed from the HuffPost, Countdown with Olbermann, or Jon Stewart’s Daily Show?

It is clear from reactions of people around the world that Barack Obama has inspired and mobilized people in an unprecedented way in these modern times. I too was swept along by this wave of Obamamania, though I have to give credit to John McCain and Sarah Palin for being catalysts that ignited my interest (and indignation) along the way. That being said, I do not miss them one bit, and hope that they will quietly fade away from the national scene. One can wish, can’t one?

You see, my interest in Obama the politician, as well as Obama the man, became fired every time McCain and Palin let loose a barrage of personal attacks on him. That’s all water under the bridge now, so let’s put all that shameful and undignified behavior to rest. I know that the more I discovered about Obama, the more respect I had for him – his intelligence, wisdom, dignity, judgment, integrity, transparency and honesty, calmness and groundedness, but mostly his audacity. This is a man who dared to peddle Hope. Hope is what has moved to tears young and old alike, across cultural, racial, geographical and political boundaries.

I stood by my window this morning, and felt myself tearing up as I contemplated my surprising involvement for the past two months with this election. And I knew that it was because hope had been rekindled in my heart: his message of hope, that we can change things, stand up for what we believe in, and make our involvement count.

I had been suffering this malaise, a melancholy of hopelessness about the state of world events for a couple of years. I was overwhelmed by the threat of war, the degradation of the environment, the detrimental effects of global warming, the rising consumerism against a backdrop poverty and starvation for millions. The list seemed endless, and I desperately wanted to be a part of some solution but didn’t know quite how. Like many others, I worried about the kind of world my children and their children will inherit, the problems we created that they will have to solve.

But today, there is hope that things could take a different turn, towards unity rather than alienation, cooperation and moderation rather than obstruction and fanaticism, compassion rather than cruelty, indifference or tyranny. Today, I feel like I too can somehow make a difference.

There is only a small wedge of that pie I made for the Tuesday night Obama victory, the pecan-pumpkin-coconut pie that I christened the Obama Pie. Today, I’ll eat that last piece of pie, with a cup of tea, and settle down to ponder the meaning of this historical event for me on a deeper level. I’m remembering something that I learned in a Women’s Studies class light years ago, that personal is political.

Yes we can. Yes, I can. I am inspired.

Photo above of Obama with his chief-of-staff appointee Rahm Emanuel

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