I am Barack Obama.
It's true that I see some of myself in him. He's an intellectual who tends to not want to deal with people, although his wife pushes him to be more social. He's unflappable in a crisis and uses that demeanor to consult with the right people and come up with a solution. More than those qualities, however, I have invested money, time, and emotion into his candidacy. I feel like there's a piece of me in his run for the White House. I also put more faith in him than I have ever put in any other politician. I believe in him, to the very center of my soul.
Okay, I know you might laugh at that. You might be cynical and say that no politician is worth that kind of trust and praise. You might wonder how so many people could be duped by a guy with next to no experience at the national level. You might even be scared because you think that so many Americans -- and truly people throughout the world -- are in for major disappointment when we find out the guy can't actually walk on water. The joke might be that Obama followers are in a very, very large cult.
I could almost see what you would be talking about for a second tonight. 80,000 of my friends and I drove through heavy traffic to fill up the Prince William County Fairgrounds in Manassas for the last rally of an historic general election campaign. It was among the largest crowds I have ever seen and we all came decked out with shirts and buttons and hats to celebrate one man. Well, it would seem like that on the surface at least. People danced and cheered and welled up with emotion. I can see how it might be a frightening scene for someone who, as they might say, hadn't "drunk the kool-aid." You might see all of your very rational concerns about an Obama presidency embodied right there.
You would be wrong.
Believe it or not, it's never really been about the man, Barack Obama. It's been about eight years of darkness in our nation. An election that half the country thought was stolen. An attack on American soil to which the response was a gratuitous war and the restriction of freedoms. An executive branch that has used the Constitution as a speed bump on the way to destroying our national pride and reputation with torture and domestic spying. A city destroyed by a national disaster as the government took their time in response. An economy collapsing under the weight of a president telling his people that they should overcome their fears by consumption, no matter whether or not they can afford it. A people growing to first distrust, then hate, their elected officials and to feel ashamed of their nation. Eight years and the people were ready for something, anything.
In steps the embodiment of change. We were blown away by his 2004 speech, preaching unity in a time of division. We were intrigued by his background and hopeful that maybe there was a chance that we could see the ultimate act of integration. He chose to run and he began to inspire the people; first, Iowa and then more and more other states as the people got to know him better.
We needed to break free from the inactivity of a national depression and we found our escape hatch. In the end, it's not just that people felt like John McCain was "more of the same". We felt that Hillary Clinton was more of the same, as well. We needed something entirely new and different to break free from our morass. Obama said the right words to feed that need for action. He recognized the unorganized beginnings of a movement and, like the good community organizer that he is, he organized us. He set us on the path to freedom and we love him for it. Love him. Gallup says that no presidential candidate has ever had a higher favorable rating since they started asking that question. NBC said that around 86% of Obama's supporters are "very positive" about him. We know about the enthusiasm. This isn't just some guy with a silver tongue who was able to get people to like him. This is a man who became the conduit through which a group of people found a way to come together and strike back en masse against their oppressors. This is why you see so many people active in the campaign, why the campaign offices are packed every night to the point where they have to ask people to make calls from home. We believe in Barack Obama because he has allowed us to believe in ourselves.
We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
We are Barack Obama.