Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama- Think About It

Barack Hussein Obama SignImage by BrianWestChest via FlickrImage by BrianWestChest via Flickr
(The picture is a yard sign that my neighbor seems to be less proud of today than yesterday when I saw it while on my bike ride- it was a very nicely lettered sign in his front yard reading "Barack Hussein Obama- Think About It.  I thought that would be a great title for my post and his sign would make a great picture. I found it by his trash can.  click the picture for a close up).

Wow.  I'm still not believing this.  Yesterday was a day unlike any other I've had for many reasons.  I began my day by rolling out of bed at o' dark thirty.  That's 4:30AM.  I had to be at the poll at 5:30 for a 6:30 opening.  By the end of my day- 1:00AM, Wednesday, November 5th, America was  a different country than it was when I woke up on election day.

The day at the polls was a fascinating peek behind the scenes of democracy, of civil service and a little too up close and personal with the very heart of Republican country.  I served in a precinct that has to be over 90% Republican.  I saw them all marching in with their sample McCain/Palin ballots in their hands.  a pretty homogenous group. Well over 90% white. But, well educated, well spoken, well moneyed and deeply interested in their country.  This was not the base that John McCain pandered to but just good old Conservatives.  The day went pretty much without adventure.  The lines were extremely long at 6:30 and stayed that way up until 9:30.  We were afraid that we might be in for a very long, very tough day.  But, at about 9:30, the crowds just went away.  We expected a rush at lunch.  None.  Noon came and went- dead.  We expected a rush after work.  None.  At 7:30 when we shut down the polling place, there was not a single voter in the building.

After getting things put away, at 8:30PM I was released from my civic duties.  15 hours on Tuesday, an hour and a half on Monday and three hours last Tuesday.  Almost 20 hours all told.  Democracy is a lot of work. When you break down my "pay" (assuming I get it), it'll be about $6/hour.  And the system is a mess.  The voter registration "system" is broken.  The voting machines are not exactly a technological marvel. The training was confusing and at times contradictory.  We still have long lines in many places to do something that should be a snap.  But, the fact that we make the effort is inspiring. I'm so happy to live in America where we think it's worth it.

I gave Dad a call on the way over to Champps.  Since I had been under a news blackout all day, with only a few minutes to grab Arby's, I had no idea what was going on in the country.  Were the new voters Obama signed turning out or were they sitting at home watching on TV?  Was Florida running smoothly?  I heard a rumor that there big time problems in Cincinnati (Hamilton County would probably favor Obama 10:1).  By the time I reached Champp's, CNN was already projecting over 100 electoral votes for Obama and just a handful for McCain, it looked like we were headed for a landslide.  At Champp's, every Democrat in White Chester (I mean West Chester) was there.  Here's the cool thing though.  The bar was a sea of diversity.  Young people (I mean down to like 8 years old), old people (in their 70s, maybe 80s), black people, hispanics, straight, gay (Vince my new pastor showed up), middle eastern people, you name it- they were there.  I had to park across the street at the movie theater because of the crowd.  I saw a guy getting Obama signs out of his car.  I wished I had my Obama t-shirt on because this was one of those rare moments where I've been in a room full of Obama supporters.  Every time a projection was made for a state to go to Obama, the crowd cheered like the Buckeyes had just sealed another national championship. Chants of Yes We Can circled around the room like the wave at a football game. It was a huge party atmosphere.  We, the crazy dreamers in West Chester, had done it.  Yes We Can turned into Yes We Did.  We actually carried Ohio!

Around 10:45, we decided to head home with the girls.  Obama was over 200 electoral votes and it looked like it was virtually impossible for McCain to catch up.  They hadn't called any states in a while and I had been up for about 18 hours.  We came home and flipped on the TV just about in time to see ABC call it (literally seconds after the polls closed out West) for Obama.  I sat just stunned.  Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was the adrenaline still flowing from being at Champp's.  But, I felt very dreamlike.  It was a feeling I don't think I've ever had before.  My mind was telling me that I was witnessing history.  But, something in me still said it was impossible.  This cannot be true.  So, I must be dreaming.  I was scared I was going to wake up.  I was scared some nut had gotten a gun into Grant Park.  I was elated.  But, still not able to fully grasp what was happening.  I saw Jessie Jackson weeping openly.  I heard John Lewis speak- the things that man has seen.  It was one of those moments that will forever be etched into my brain and my heart.

I heard one reporter talk about the sea of black faces they kept showing. But, I'm not happy for black people today.  Barack Obama is not the president of black people.  He's the president of all people.  Today, I am probably more proud of America than ever before in my life.  The only time I can recall feeling anything like this was a week or so after September 11th, when we ALL came together and were just Americans for those few all too brief days/weeks.  I think it will disturb  a few white people to see so many black people celebrating.  But, be of good cheer.  We're not all happy because we have won some competition with you.  We didn't win this election at your expense.  We're so happy because we have taken a quantum leap (and I mean a quantum leap) toward achieving the one thing black people really want.  It's not a hand out.  It's not affirmative action.  It's not victory at your expense.  What we want is  a true meritocracy.  It's a land where the best man wins.  It's for the most qualified person to get the job.  The black candidate didn't win this election.  The better candidate won.  The candidate with the best connection with the American people won.  The man who embodies the American dream won.  The man with the better ideas won.  The smarter man won.  The man who ran the better campaign won.  The man with the more steady temperament won.  This is all we have ever wanted.  For that, I do thank America.  

This morning I woke up with the words of Muhammad Ali ringing in my ears "I shook up the world".  Even though this victory was not about Barack Obama (and he'd be the first to tell you that), he is one of the few men in history who can say those words with all humility.  

I want to give a shout out to John McCain.  Last night, we saw the old John McCain that many of your yearned for during this campaign.  I have mixed emotions about that wish.   I have a lot of respect for John McCain.  But, since my money was on the other horse in this race, I can't say I was too sad that McCain kept hobbling himself.  If he had run as the man of integrity, honor and dignity that I know he is, I think the outcome of the election probably would have been different.  Last night he was conciliatory in defeat, dare I say Presidential? and he made one of the best speeches of the campaign season.  I don't know if he was relieved or what.  But, he seemed more relaxed than I had seen him in a long time.  He delivered the speech in a smooth cadence. It was obvious it was from his heart. I was moved.  John McCain is a true American hero and should always be remembered as such.

Barack Obama, in his speech, did exactly what I expected of him.  He has set the bar so high in my book that his speech while unbelievably moving was not surprising.  He spoke with humility.  He spoke of humility.  He talked about getting to work right away.  He talked about sacrifice.  He talked about how America will be different in the world's eyes.  There was no gloating.  There was not even a lot of time spend basking in the well deserved glory.  It was "It's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work."  Last night was not the end goal.  Last night was the job offer to get the chance to work to the goal. For those of you who think Obama did this to feed his overly large ego, I think he will quickly prove you wrong.  I think we will see an army of volunteers rise up, led by him, that will fundamentally transform this nation and I'm giddy about the prospects.

Today (Tony), the world is fundamentally transformed.  Yes, my pipe that broke last night was still broken.  Yes, I still have a ton of packages to move out of the garage. Yes,  I have 200 unread emails since I was out all day yesterday.  But, the world is a fundamentally different place because America chose a man named "Barack Hussein Obama" to be her President.  To my neighbor.  Yes, I thought about it.  America thought about it.  Maybe it's time for you to think about it again.

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Sophia said...

I never heard of Universalism. I a pentacostal living with the baptist but have a kingdom agenda. I don't have the same views as most of my colleagues. I was in ministry and quit now I'm back again. A sorta Prodigal if you will now my view of the world is so much more universal.

Tones said...

Hey Brian - I know you worked hard campaigning - you're a great American... fundamentally transformed? I still don't buy it - Obama ran a centrist campaign with flares of pure leftist ideologies. He spent many millions on his campaign - he owes a lot of people across the entire leftist sphere a lot of favors now. I hope that he has what it takes to stand on his own and without his cronies (no disrespect inteded - they all have their pepes)

They interviewed folks on the street yesterday - I'll never forget what one woman said - "this is a great day, now I won't have to worry about putting gas in my car or paying my mortgage any more".

Interesting... who is Obama? Well, I don't think he did a very good job of telling us, and what's interesting is that if you ask 100 people who Obama is, you'll get 95 answers... he's whoever you want him to be. This is why he won. He's a brilliant guy... and I do believe over the course of the next couple years, we will see that there's a social experiment in the mix that more many in this country, will not feel so American. It will come deliberately, yet slowly, so keep a keen eye.

All that said, it was quite a ride, and it does feel historical! His next hurdle? Keep goofs like Mrs. Pelosi quite!

Brian said...


Please don't measure all of us Obamaphiles by that woman's shallow comment. As I said, I still woke up with a host of problems this morning. But, in a very real way, the world has fundamentally shifted and there are a lot of us who feel it, Tony. Seriously. Obama will not cure cancer in the next several months. He will not create a car that runs on water. He will not make the lame walk or the blind see. He will not fix all of our problems in his first term and there's a very good chance he won't get a second term. He's been left a very, very steep hill to climb. But, I believe he is the man best suited to climb it at this time. I will be keeping a keen eye. It sounds like you and I both expect a major shift. It's just that you're dreading it and I'm looking forward to it.

I do hope he puts a muzzle on Nancy Pelosi. In fact, I'm fairly confident he will.

kc bob said...

Congrats to you Brian - you have been a wonderful advocate for the President Elect!! I so appreciated the civil dialog about the candidates that you have hosted here on your blog.. many of the things that you wrote influenced my vote.

I am hopeful about America today.

Sophia said...

It is ridiculous to think that now poof! everything will be cheaper and easier. I still ate rice and pork n beans for dinner last night because I have no food. Pay day is Friday!

If that was the case, then I should have been eating steak last night!

Brian said...

You're right, Sophie (may I call you Sophie?).

We still have a pile of problems to face and Barack Obama is not the answer to every thing that is wrong with America. Anyone who thinks he will magically heal America is deluded.

A President can only so much. IMO, the major job of the President is to set direction and orchestrate the government and the citizens to do their job. Obama himself says that he cannot read to your kids, turn off the TV, etc.

We've got major problems and we need to set realistic expectations. It will take all of us working together to transform America into something a little better than it is today. The election of Obama is merely a beginning. I hope he will be a catalyst for change. But he, by himself, cannot bring about all the change we need.

Sophia said...

You can call me Sophie! We all have to work together. This is only the wind of change. Full change is yet to come! This is something we have to do. Yes, we are our brother's keeper. It's going to longer than 4 years to do this thing. Im in what bout you?

Brian said...

Oh yeah. I'm in. And, you're right on all counts.

Sequoia Lea Ananda said...

It's great to hear your reactions and experiences yesterday Brian. I thought of you last night and the things you've said here on your blog. It was an amazing feeling to see the elation in the crowd and to feel pride for my country - something I haven't felt in a long while - probably since 9/11.

I wavered back and forth between Obama and Nader up until I filled in the bubble for Obama. I am not so optimistic about Obama's ability to affect change but I do feel that he deserves a chance at it. More importantly, I am optimistic about the American people's ability to affect change. Obama is right, it is we who will sacrifice for the sake of change - for a better future for our world.

Most of all, I hope that the enthusiasm built by the election doesn't fizzle and that the mobilization for change keeps on rolling. We have to keep speaking up and speaking out and organizing.

Brian said...


I hope that we're able to tap into that enthusiasm and optimism present in the Obama supporters and channel it into a great achievement (or several great achievements).

It's never been "Yes Obama Can", it's "Yes We Can". Obama supporters (and detractors) have to keep that in mind.

Don said...

I have great hope that president-elect Obama can bring change to fruition. I am the eternal optimist as of four years ago (when I started this journey). Thank you for your hard work and your willingness to act on your hopes and dreams for America.

Brian said...


I was glad that Obama gave a pretty somber acceptance speech to match the situation the country is in now. Now is a time for controlled cautious optimism and a willingness to sacrifice and work together.

I'm glad that I was on the right side of history and did not have to wake up Wednesday morning wondering what else I could have done. But, the work is just beginning.


Sophia said...

Even though I voted for Barack Obama, I would have voted for John McCain if the message had been the same! I vote according to my spirit and as I believe the Holy Spirit leads me. I listened to the issues and I look at the candidates back ground but I still vote according to the Spirit. Who would God have in place for such a time as this. Good, bad or indifferent! All things must be inorder so that scripture can be fulfilled.

I voted for Bush! Yes, I said it! Why? Because I distinctly heard God say that there has to be first a need for change before change can come! I have witnesses to verify that. The majority of my friends were angry with me and I lost a few. But some came back to say, I remembered what you said now I see what you mean.

Here's the awesome thing about this time in history! We are witnessing the answer or response from the heavens or universe to the cries of an oppressed, empoverished, desperate people due to the economic and/or socio-economic climate of our time.

You know what's going on in our world today! Be it wars, the oil crisis, high cost of food, terrorism, depressed economy, or the moral decay of youth we are clearly a nation a world in peril. It seems that when the masses cry out for help to change their current condition, then change comes. Look back in time into biblical history you will find a response came from heaven when the masses cried out.

What am i saying? When there is massive oppression, massive destruction, massive chaos, and massive suffering a change comes. When the atmosphere becomes charged and filled with the cries of the people then a change comes.

As a girl, I attended Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, Ca. I remember it was in a math or science class that we talked about quantum physics in relation to the world. This was 10th grade! I remember my instructor talking about chaos (Chaos Theory). How the movement (chaos) of atoms due its sensitive nature causes a molecular vibration that in time changes matter (butterfly effect). I think it was Father Wahl who said that this vibration or movement causes wind and the wind is the seen evidence of a pending change. I remember him saying that without chaos or disturbance there can be no wind of change. So to that end I say the following.

The Biblically Historical Response to change:

The creation story
Genesis 1:2 says that the earth (world) was formless, void, and darkness was upon it.

The phrase without form (formless) comes from a Hebrew word meaning formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness, nothingness, empty space, and place of chaos. The response from heaven (universe) God was "let there be light! The word light is from a Hebrew word meaning light of day, dawn, life, prosperity, instruction.

It is my opinion that this is the first biblically historical example of heaven responding to the condition of chaos. Massive darkness, massive oppression yielded a response of light, hope. I say yes!

The story of Moses - oppression of the children of Israel while in Egypt and the rise or response to their cries in the person of Moses.
The story of Esther - the impending genocide of a people and their deliverence through the person of Esther
The story of Jesus - oppression of the Jews by Roman Empire and the rise or response to their depressed economic condition in the person of Jesus Christ.
I can only think of one example of current historical chaos and that is the Revolutionary War and the response from heaven in the person of General George Washington. There have been various examples of an economy gone wrong and abused people that has caused chaos and a movement. For example, The Indian Wars, Slavery, and The Holocust. We have not even looked at chaos in other countries China, Australia, France, Germany and Africa. There have been noted people that have been raised up for that time. While all of these atrocities affected people all over, it is the combination of woes which affect the masses that yields the response.

What am I saying? It has to be bad enough for all people to cry foul! Whites, Blacks, everyone! Everyone! even the last little Who in Whoville has to yelp! Why? Because it is that kind of vibration (chaos) that's needed to cause matter to change!

That's the brooding the bible speaks of in Genesis! It's the cries hoovering over head! Our collective cries meld together into one loud voice that shouts out for change and change comes!

I am not implying that President Elect Barack Obama is in any way the savior! He is a man who heard the call from heaven and responded by being ready for such a time as this! We are a people willing to accept his appointment because we have become desperate for change. It is this light, this hope that the conditions of life need and will change because of the unity of a people. A people willing to put aside their own idiosyncrasies and peculiar ways and attitudes to work together toward a common goal. We are our brother's keeper. We are socially, morally, and economcally responsible for each other and nothing can bring a people faster to surrender like a tradegy and a time of desperation.

I suffered and yet am suffering do to the previous election. If you look back a little farther you will see that desperation and desolation of times uncloked itself more than 40 or 50 years ago. Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan wouldn't do it, Kennedy and King tried to do it, Clinton was busy doing other things and Bush messed it up. So what now? Go back look at our current history and see if you do not find what I found. God is soveriegn! We must be ready! It's happening before our very eyes.