Catharsis in Chicago

The Return of Hope

Barack Obama addresses the crowd at the White House Summit in Global Development in July 2016. Photo by Kelly Ramundo

Oh hello old friend. What’s this strange thing I feel? That tingling that starts in the legs and the rises up like little carbonated bubbles, a flip back of the tab, click and swooosh, through the belly and right to the throat… oh that’s right. Hope.

Tonight I felt something that has been almost entirely absent since election night when my world tumbled, most unexpectedly. The day millions of Americans elected a mentally unstable internet troll to the highest office of the land.

In front of a packed convention center in Chicago, Barack Obama, one of the most tremendous leaders this nation has seen, told the nation that with a little love and a little glue, it could all be put back together again. That everything was going to be ok, if only we remembered the formula.

First and foremost, we must not take our democracy for granted. We must be vigilant but not afraid. We must revere and defend the constitution and its protections for all people. We must listen to each other. We must think for ourselves. Our democracy needs us, Obama cautioned. But the threats might not be what we think. They are ignorance, not ISIS. Complacence, not China. Information ecco chambers and not just Russian spies. “We must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are…” said this man, who has managed — God knows how — to remain the epitome of grace even with much of his hard-earned legacy poised to be undone by a twat with a Twitter handle.

Oh Obama, I will miss you — your thoughtfulness, you intelligence, and your unwavering dedication to what is just, what is right and what is true. You have marched us down the path of progress for eight years — it was always the long game with you. And this, your final stage, your final stand as the leader of and for all Americans reminds us that even as we take one giant step back, we’ve been two-stepping forward for a while. And they were mighty big shoes.

So as I sat there listening tonight, smiling, then bawling, then smiling again — feeling the hope slowly start to circulate after these cold two months, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel just yet. But I knew it was there.