In January of 2009, when Barack Obama was first inaugurated as our president, I didn’t like him. I felt that he had snaked a job that was rightfully Hillary’s. I was afraid he couldn’t push healthcare reform through. I worried he wasn’t committed to ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was not until I watched the inauguration and thought about the meaningful impact he would have on untold numbers of young black men and women that I thought differently. It was not until I watched men and women of all colors stand in the cold, shoulder to shoulder, with a cloud of their collective breath hovering over them that I considered what it meant to have an excellent human being with black skin as our leader. His very existence opened doors in young minds everywhere. I cannot fathom the value of a few “I can’ts” turned “I can.” but in Obama’s shadow, it is certain that this occurs in the multitudes.
I watched, as Roberts stumbled over the oath. I watched, as his children fidgeted. I watched, as our nation stood quietly on the precipice of something awesome. The preacher said a prayer and when he finished and he said, “Amen” and nearly 2 million Americans joined him from the audience. I joined in humble prayer too, from my little living room in Laramie, Wyoming.
Last summer the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. At that time, I was packing mine and my children’s belongings for storage because we were homeless due to the careless actions of a slumlord. I remember that in spite of my sorrow, I wept that day not because of the loss of my home but in gratitude for access to affordable healthcare.
This morning, I awoke to a Facebook notification from a friend I have known since 8th grade. It was a picture of his brother, a marine, home from war and posing happily for the camera with his young niece.
I am one of those Americans who voted for Barack this time around.
I did so, not for the promise of free stuff, but because I believe in freedom.
I believe in the freedom of a man to marry the man of his dreams.
I believe in the freedom of a woman to access the same healthcare as her male coworker without having to justify it to her boss.
I believe in the freedom of a girl, like my sister, who wants to buy health insurance without being constrained by her gender or her pre-existing conditions.
I believe in the freedom of an American, like my friend the marine, to carry a lawfully owned concealed weapon on an Amtrak train or in a National Park as much as I believe in the freedom of a child to attend school safely without fear of a madman with an automatic weapon.
I believe in the freedom to pay off student loan debt, like mine, fairly and without lifelong servitude to banks.
I believe in my sons’ freedom to live on a clean and healthy planet unmarred by inefficient cars that guzzle big oil gasoline.
I believe in my mother being free to receive equal pay for equal work.
I believe in the freedoms my father taught me. The ones that Thomas Jefferson dreamed of when he announced that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. I am proud that our nation and our president understand that these freedoms belong to every American, of every color, creed, gender, ability, or economic background.
I could go on for a long time, listing the successes of Barack Obama’s first term. I could sing my praises for the way we have changed course since Bush snuck out that back door onto his helicopter headed toward Texas, all day.
Instead, I will say simply that when my son looked at the crowds teaming for a glimpse of Barack and his family in 2009 and he said that it looked like the end of Star Wars, when the republic cheered the death of the dark side, he spoke a truth beyond his understanding.
When millions Americans of all faiths bow their heads and in unison thank their almighty creator for the opportunity to live in this place and this time, under this fine leader, my heart and mind will be with them.
When America cheers for our bright future, our beloved president, and our renewed contract for four more years of excellent leadership, I will cheer also. I know that there are many who despise our president. Many who think he is the worst thing that has ever happened to our country. Luckily, they are wrong and Barack will serve them faithfully knowing that they know not how mistaken they are.
See, we had the opportunity to elect a guy who cares only for those who voted in his favor… And we said no.