Do I Inhale or Exhale?

Wed, November 5, 2008


This morning when PunditGirl woke up, her eyes half open and still sleepy, snuggled under the covers, she quietly asked in her groggy morning voice, “Did Obama win?”

When I told her the outcome, she sat up, made a fist and said, as if it was her own triumph, “YES!”

That’s the tone I want to be able to savor as we move forward from the eight years of disappointment and worry this country has been through, eight years of deception and greed, eight years of losing ourselves.

We’ve survived one of the longest and most emotionally taxing elections in memory. And I want to feel that elation that PunditGirl showed this morning, but I’m still hesitant. Not because I have any more reservations about Barack Obama, but because I have reservations about us as a country.

We did something truly amazing last night — something I never thought I would see in my lifetime, and I don’t just mean the election of the first African-American President.

I didn’t think, given the state of divisive politics, personal attacks and gamesmanship that had become the status quo of our political world, that I would ever see red and blue truly become purple.

But last night, as the states were being turned colors on the news network’s maps, the red and the blue did begin to blend together. And I started to weep.

I feared for my eight-year-old growing up in a country where it had become accepted practice to attack politicians’ families, to mock people’s education and intellect, and to believe it was alright to say and do whatever it took to win a vote, regardless of the consequences, be they tangible or moral.

This morning, for the first time in many years, I have hope that our nation is on the road to recovering its political soul.

I’m not letting Barack Obama off the hook. I will be there making sure that our new administration takes seriously the issues of equal pay for equal work, that it gives back our right to reproductive choice, that it makes sure that our sons and daughters have quality day care and health care and that, on some level, we acknowledge that we are our brothers’ keepers.

If we have learned nothing else from the last eight years, it should be this — if we continue to allow our government to throw its hands up and say “It’s not our responsibility,” we are doomed.

Thank goodness doom is not the feeling I have this morning, just joy tinged with a little pragmatism. Because the words and the spirit of being one country again are wonderful, but the work that needs to start today to keep that going will be hard and frustrating at times.

This morning, I can exhale because voters stood up to the politics of deception and division and sent a clear message — we are done with that.

I can inhale because there is fresh political air blowing today. And its breeze feels wonderful.

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16 Responses to “Do I Inhale or Exhale?”

  1. Elizabeth Harper Says:

    You did an amazing job yesterday providing the coverage you all through the events of election day.

    What a wonderful outcome! I only wish I could have been stateside to share the celebration with others instead of watching it on TV. Well, I am grateful there was TV…the BBC did a great job all through our night. I finally crawled into bed at 5:30 am.

    I was too tired to remember my dreams, but I’m sure they were sweet!

    Thanks again for all of your hard work.

  2. Cynthia Samuels Says:

    Oh Joanne what a wise and thoughtful take on all this! As usual you have brought so many ideas together so well. I’m so sentimental this morning that I’ve had trouble doing that. Nice, nice job and yay for Punditgirl. Isn’t it great to have this to offer her in the morning after 8 years of trying to hide the president from the kids?

  3. jodifur Says:

    It’s a great day in America. I am so proud of this country and what we just did. I almost cried voting yesterday, and I am so not an emotional person.

    YES WE CAN!!!!

  4. amyz5 Says:

    agreed and well put. let us all have the excitement of punditgirl and the wisdom of her mom moving forward.

  5. KARIN Says:

    Yay! for Punditgirl. Yay! for girls everywhere. My daughter was torn between earing her Daisy Scout tshirt (today is Daisy Scout meeting day) or her Obama Tshirt. She wore the Daisy Scout shirt, “because Obama already knows I would vote for him” :)

    What an election! What a night! What a bright future for our children!

  6. Sharon Says:

    I have hope for the future for my adult children, too. Their generation helped with this enormous wave of change. We all have to stay involved and vocal so this opportunity becomes a reality. And for you, Joanne ~ supreme court, supreme court, supreme court.

  7. Mom101 Says:

    I would dance naked in that breeze if I only could lose another 20 pounds.

    So happy for your daughter, for mine, for the entire next generation.

  8. Donna Says:

    Oh, Joanne – I’m glad you are breathing the fresh air this morning. You need to savor this moment and enjoy it with PunditGirl. My happiest personal outcome of this year’s election has been what it has shown my own “SoCal Kid.” She’s heard me bitch and moan about Bush for most of her life (he was elected the year she started kindergarten). She saw my disappointment in 2004. This year, she saw me try to do something about who gets to make the decisions about our country’s future… she accompanied me to a MoveOn demonstration (and witnessed how nasty some people can be when their political ideas are challenged)… she attended our state Democratic convention… and last night, she saw that ordinary people CAN effect change. Yes we can.

    No one is going to get a free ride here, not even the people we worked so hard to elect. We will continue to make them be accountable. But right now, it’s OK to celebrate a little. We’ve made history. And I truly believe we are going to make this world a better place for our daughters to grow up in.

  9. De in D.C. Says:

    My 8yo son had the exact same morning as PunditGirl. He was thrilled that Obama not only took the necessary 270 votes, but also that he got the electoral votes from our home state of Virginia. I then showed him the maps from 2004 and this year to show him the states that had turned from red to blue. This segued into a discussion about how both of the candidates this year were strong leaders and I felt that both of them would have done a great job as President (but Obama would do a better job, right mom? Not necessarily honey) but that I thought that some of the ideas Obama wanted to implement were the better ideas for our country.

    I’m eagerly anticipating the announcements over the new few months on who Obama will be choosing for his advisers and cabinet positions.

  10. Kelly Says:

    Inhaling deeply myself. I’m holding it in, and am hoping for the best of kept promises.

  11. Holly Says:

    I was 80 percent certain this would be the outcome approximately two weeks ago. I am glad that the election went the way it did and I look forward to seeing what will happen over the next 12 months. I am certain things will not change rapidly and I am glad for that, this might be a good time for that “thoughtful pause” from our elected officals across both the nation and our local governments.

  12. impromptublogger Says:

    Breathe deeply and enjoy the fresh air coming into DC! :-)

  13. winecat Says:

    Wonder and awe tinged with the tiniest bit of fear. We did such as amazing thing last night will we be able to sustain it?

    But it’s it wonderful to have a president that we don’t have to cringe every time he opens his mouth

  14. Tracee Says:

    Yes, it’s optimism. I’m very, very happy and looking forward to the next 4 years.

  15. Daisy Says:

    I’m still tearing up as I think of the implications and the contagious excitement of last night. People partying in the streets over an election — not a Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, or World Series: a presidential election!!

  16. Betty Refour Says:

    wonderful take and a fabulous outcome. we have so far to go but at least we are on the right track.

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