Thursday, August 28, 2008

Inspiration comes to the deeply cynical

By Nancy Jane Moore

Oh, hell, I'm inspired. I listened to Barack Obama accept the Democratic nomination for president tonight, and I started to believe that we really could solve the multitude of problems that confront this country -- problems that would have been challenging enough even without the incredible failures of the Bush administration.

I already knew Obama was a smart man with good ideas who could give a great speech, but now I also know he's tough and willing to take strong stands. And even though I'm a cynic when it comes to politicians, I found myself moved. I found myself shouting "Yes!" I found myself crying. (OK, so I noticed a couple of compromise positions in there -- as my father keeps pointing out, Obama is a politician. But he's a damn good politician.)

Obama is an unlikely combination of charismatic and disciplined, of idealistic and practical. If anyone can pull off the kind of change we need in this country, he can. (See, I told you I was inspired.)

The last politician who moved me this much was John F. Kennedy when he said "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." I was 11 years old at the time. It was a lot easier to inspire me when I was 11.

I've got to say, it scares me a little to feel so inspired. I've been hurt so many times before. But I can't help it tonight. I actually believe that electing Obama might fix this country's problems.

We've been talking about race and gender throughout this campaign. Discrimination on both fronts has affected my life. I went to segregated schools until my senior year in high school. And I've been told all my life that I couldn't do certain things because women couldn't do them. The fact that the Democratic Primary came down to a fight between a woman and a black man meant a lot to me, because it showed a real sea change from the country of my childhood.

A friend of mine, speaking on a panel on women writers at a science fiction convention a couple of weeks ago, said, "I don't want an editor to buy my story just because I'm a woman." To which I responded, "I don't want an editor to reject my story just because I'm a woman, either."

All people of any consequence want to be judged on their merits, not their race, not their gender. It is to the Democrats' credit that they are now ready to nominate a black man. It is to their credit that they gave serious consideration to a woman.

But the reason the Democrats nominated Barack Obama is because he has the kind of ideas this country needs now. And in the end, that's the most important criteria for selecting a president.

If I'd been out on that football field, instead of watching on television, you'd have seen me clapping my hands and yelling, "Yes, we can."

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