Amidst the surprising results from last Tuesday’s election, I’ve been in a state of shock, grief, and anger. I’ve talked to my friends and family about what may happen in the next four years to our country and how it will affect the people we know and love. I’ve thought long and hard about writing about my personal reaction to the electoral results until I decided to divert my energy into scribing something different. So this post isn’t about Hillary Clinton or the President-Elect (who shall go unnamed throughout this editorial). Rather, it is about Barack Obama.
There have been three presidents in my lifetime: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama. The Clinton years never made a big impression on me at the time, but Bush’s tenure imprinted a level of cynicism upon myself as it became defined by the failures of Iraq and Katrina. Politics, in my mind, was an ugly business and I felt contempt at those who participated in it.
That changed when I discovered Obama. Like many others I was inspired by his words and charisma as he took center stage of the political world in 2007. Obama’s message of hope and change appealed to my generation, who had been in disarray from the haze of a post-9/11 world. He discussed the importance of multiculturalism in America and the need for inclusivity in society. I remember feeling enthralled after Obama won the Democratic primaries, entranced by the October debates, and completely overjoyed when he won the presidency.
The excitement I felt for Obama is what I’d imagine the baby boomers had experienced for Kennedy. Obama was the first politician I had sensed who had understood what I was going through. Like Obama, I’m biracial and grew up in a mostly white society. While I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid racism and discrimination throughout my life, a part of me has always felt secluded from others. Yet Obama’s presidency taught me that I was not alone and that it is important to have faith in others. And over the past eight years, I feel I have discovered my own identity and grew more open with society. I’ve become a better and more confident person and I’ve always had Obama as a role model to help teach me about myself.
Obama is course not a perfect president. I’ve heard complaints from fellow liberals asserting that he never managed to deliver his initial promises while conservatives argued that he went too far. But I’ve always been proud that Obama was my president and that he was the man who represented our country overseas. Nothing has or will ever change that opinion. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the horizon any more than what Paul Krugman, Carl Bernstein, or John Oliver do, but I can tell you that I am and always will be an Obama optimist.