Tonight I watched the South Carolina Democratic Primary results. I was pretty sure Barack Obama would win in South Carolina. And why not. He is the first African American candidate who even has half a chance of going all the way to the White House. But in this particular election year, that’s all he needs. Half a chance. I think he’ll make it. I sure hope he will. And hope for change is the operative word here. He gives me hope. It’s been in short supply around here for a long time.
I have listened to all the political debates, both republican and democrat. I was raised by a feminist and life-long democrat who immigrated out of Texas in the late 1940’s to Salt Lake City, Utah. Strange place to find herself. She was always at odds with the culture here, but stayed, despite her alienation from the Mormons surrounding her. She was married to a man who probably suffered post-traumatic stress from his service in France at the end of World War II. When she married him, he had three sons ranging in age from five to fifteen. And when shortly after their marriage, he left her to go fight overseas, she was pregnant with me. And now she isn’t here to see, not just a woman running for President, but an African American man as well. She would have been overjoyed.
And so I feel all the emotion my mother would have felt in this season of hope. I listened to Senator Obama deliver one of the most eloquent and inspirational speeches I’ve heard any politician ever give. I sat and listened to Barack Obama speak tonight with tears streaming down my face. I found myself saying aloud, with the crowd gathered in the room with him, as I watched at home in front of a television set, “Yes We Can!” And I thought, Yes, we can restore our Bill of Rights! Yes, we can take care of all our citizens in times of trouble. Yes, we can end an ill-conceived, poorly planned, badly executed and economically ruinous war. Yes, we can take care of our veterans from this horrible war. Yes, we can unite a country that has been divided on issues of choice and faith, gender and sexual preference, care for the planet pitted against corporate greed. Yes we can.
What strikes me every time I listen to Senator Obama is his elegant and thoughtful use of language. What was conspicuously absent from his victory speech tonight was the personal pronoun “I.” He didn’t say, “I can do this.” He said, “We can do this.” Yes we can.