Monday, May 12, 2008

The tide has turned

It seems more and more inevitable now that Barack Obama will get the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States. I never thought I would see in my lifetime a black candidate with a real chance at becoming president. I am at once thrilled and terrified.

I am thrilled that America has come so far. I remember growing up with a father who adored Archie Bunker. He missed the genius of the satire completely. Rob Reiner's brilliance was utterly beyond his grasp. He really believed that Archie Bunker was right. For all I know he still may.

And that is what terrifies me. We are pretty well insulated in our liberal little corner of the Northeast. A guy I know refers to Bar Harbor as being "behind the tofu curtain" for its dearth of hippes-turned-entrepreneurs. Free range organic flax seeds are available at the grocery store here. Yeah, it's kinda liberal compared to the rest of Hancock County, and quite liberal when compared to any number of rural counties in the midwest and the deep south. Now before all you southerners and midwesterners get your panties in a knot, please understand that I know that not all southerners are rednecks and not all midwesterners are nazi-sypathizing offspring of German immigrants. Let's just say that I know that not everybody in America is as cool and hip and progressive as we are here in the liberal northeast.

I worry what will happen to Obama. On the campaign trail, who will guard him? The same secret service guys who put a noose in the work area of a black colleague? What happens if he wins? Will he have to travel around in a bullet-proof bubble like the pope? How tragic for us if he does.

On the other hand, what happens if he does get elected? What kind of progress can be made with a new approach, a new mandate, a new way of doing things? There is so much to hope for, it is sometimes difficult for this lifelong Red Sox fan to deal with. I have become reluctant to hope. There is a part of me that looks at the last few years of Red Sox and New England Patriots' championships as a fluke. It's too good - it can't be real. It will be taken from us. We know what that is about.

Honestly, I am more comfortable sometimes working from an underdog position. It is familiar. The work is hard, but it is comfortable. I know it and I am good at it. Operating from a position of power or authority is foreign to me, I don't trust it.

So I worry about getting a big majority in both houses of Congress and capturing the White House at the same time. Good God. It might be too much. We'll screw it up. Just like the Rs did after '96. They came on strong, like the bullies they were, and kicked ass and took names. I fear that we might do the same after being back-benched for so long. That or we might just fart around and get all tangled up in our own importance and get nothing done. Like the Red Sox do (or did) and the Patriots (ditto there).

Tom Allen threw his support to Obama today. That was nice. I am getting more and more impressed with Tom Allen every day. For a straight white male lawyer from Portland, he is remarkably good on a variety of issues. Unspeakably dull to listen to, but dead-on when it comes to the issues. I must remember to donate to his campaign this week.

I must learn to feed my hopes and sooth my fears. In politics as in life. I must learn to put one foot on front of the other, to do the next right thing and to move forward, trusting that what I need will be there.

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