I didn't believe it could happen until this morning when I woke up and the radio was still saying that Obama won.
He is not wealthy
His name is "funny"
His race calls into question our entire racial system of black vs white and we have never dealt well with racial ambiguity
His campaign was grassroots
He has ideals.
He is intelligent and speaks to people intelligently
For all these reasons, I thought, "I want him to win but I don't think he will win."
But I donated anyway, and knocked on some doors and drove to my state to vote.
I guess enough people did that too.
Yesterday I asked my professor in my class on Immigration, "It seems like we have always had an underclass, a group of people to be exploitable and expendable labor. It was Irish indentured servants, then black slaves, then the Chinese, then Filipinos and Mexicans, and now Mexicans and Central Americans. Is there any alternative to this system? It seems like once one group gains rights, another group is pushed down to take their place."
He told me that this system is inevitable, that decreasing birth rates of the upwardly mobile and higher expectations of wages and working conditions makes an underclass of people who have no options but to accept work that is back-breaking and ill-paid.
I think this is true, but I also think that if we stop at that analysis, the world will never get better. If the poor shall always be with us, then I want there to be most well-fed, least beaten poor people ever in the history of the world.
I want trade agreements that foster better working conditions, I want growers and factories to be held accountable for how they treat their meanest laborer, I want the children of the poor to have the best possible school system ever.
I want to stop basing our foreign policy on wealth-accumulation and power.
Yesterday's election reminded me that every step forward is predicated on a thousand steps before it. Would there be a President Elect Obama without a Sojourner Truth? Without a Frederick Douglass? Without the Grimké sisters, William Lloyd Garrision, without a Susan B. Anthony? With a Lucretia Mott or a Rosa Parks or a Dr. King? Without a Saul Alinsky, an Emma Tenayuca or Chavez ? Without the Haymarket Riots, or Selma, Stonewall or Brown vs. Board of Education or Loving vs.Virginia, Mendez vs. Westminister? Without the the hundreds and hundreds of people whose names don't get into history books, or television programs? Every one of those people and movements were imperfect and incomplete, but everyone one of them contributed.
I hope that there are better things in the future, that we haven't yet imagined, that are built on events like today's election.