Well-intentioned friends and loved ones, including the other adult in this apartment, keep sending me statistics and polling data: Barack is up by 10%, Barack leads by 5%, Obama will carry 15% of left-handed, brown-haired,fifty-year-olds in the lower-right quadrant of West Virginia. To all of them I want to say STOP! DON’T JINX IT!
Call me superstitious if you want to (and some people who live here have, let me tell you), but right now … it’s like walking past a graveyard or a cave with a big mean dog inside: the thing to do at this point is hold our collective breath and be very, very still, lest a single inadvertent movement tip the undecided voters (all 4% of ’em) into the McCain column and lose us the whole shebang. (Did you read David Sedaris’s piece in the recent New Yorker about undecided voters? That at this point it’s like being offered chicken or shit with ground glass on top of it and saying, “uh…how is the chicken prepared?”)
I don’t need to tell you what a big shebang it is, right? It’s huge. Epic might not be too big a word. No need for me to rehearse the reasons why the tall skinny guy from Illinois should win (and yes, I do mean for that description to resonate with the OTHER tall skinny unlikely president from Illinois); why it’s become, as far as I’m concerned, a moral imperative that he does win; why I shudder to think what will become of us, individually and as a country, if he doesn’t win.
A friend worked with a group called Progressive Futures on a wonderful short advertisement about what’s at stake, set to the plaintive strains of Paul Simon’s “American Tune”:
What if we had an election in which we didn’t just pay lip-sevice “democracy”? Think about it – if you’re twenty years old, you’ve grown up in a country where in the past two elections, huge swaths of people were systematically disenfranchised. It’s a far cry from Whitman’s description of democracy:
Did you, O friend, suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and for a party name? I say democracy is only of use there that it might pass on and come to its flower and fruit in manners, in the highest forms of interaction between people and their beliefs – in religion, literature, colleges and schools – democracy in all public and private life.
Sounds good, eh?
The other day on NPR, I heard Melissa Block interviewing African Americans in St. Louis at a job re-training site. One of the men interviewed said, “well, there’s a saying going around in the black community: Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Barack could run, Barack is running so our children could fly.”
Maybe it was the really crappy traffic on the FDR (where I had my rant about blaming Nader for the country’s ills), but I got all teary-eyed when I heard that.
Fly, indeed. I know that electing Barack isn’t going to erase two-hundred-plus years of institutionalized racism, but his victory would go a long way towards putting a new face on our country’s future – a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, cosmopolitan face, equally at home in both Manhattans: Manhattan, Kansas, and, you know, The Manhattan (the one in “not real” America).
Of course, another person in this same NPR interview said, “well, can’t be too sure – any fugazy thing can happen with the ‘publicans.”
I think I’m too old to know precisely what “fugazy” means, but I get the gist: be careful or they’re gonna steal this fucker too.