some late night rambling about Obama (even though I missed his final address)

When I was in sixth grade, I didn’t understand the significance of Obama’s election. That isn’t to say I didn’t see that he would be the first president with African roots. I didn’t understand that sometimes people voted motivated by things outside of policy. Obama, through both policy and non-political action, has been to many the champion of rights, freedom, equality, and love that so many of our marginalized communities were in need of. We all know that there is so much work to be done. Socially and economically, overseas and at home, our country is so very far away from perfection. But these past eight years have carried such a rapid escalation in our accomplishments (though they have at times felt tedious or long-overdue!) that it finally feels as though we have begun the process of making this nation whole.

There are divisions that run deep in our culture; we know this to varying degrees and with varying feelings about those divisions. There will always be schisms in a truly free democracy, and that is simply an insurmountable truth of a governmental system that so heavily prides itself on being driven by the unfettered choice of the people.

With that said, many people tremble at what is to supplant Barack Obama. Their fears may or may not be warranted — only time can really answer that — but they can at least draw some solace from the fact that 8 years of groundwork is not so easily ripped up and strewn aside. It remains that so many of us, discouraged by the conflict, fear, and hate we witness daily, are united around the goal of conquering these same detractions. Though we are faced with a leader who threatens to undo so much of the progress these last 8 years have borne, the same democracy that elected our leaders can shape the way we want our future to look.

I want to encourage people, while 2017 is still in its infancy, to vote/act/live as though everything you do is directly related to the people around you. It is easy for us to view politics through the lens of self-preservation and self-promotion, and perhaps it is naïve of me to think that people (myself included) will ever really set themselves apart from that mentality, but I think that shifting the mindset from ourselves to those around us can not only help a country survive an uncertain presidency, but thrive for years beyond it. We are a nation, united by certain values and beliefs that make us American. Don’t let party lines become concrete dividers or difference in opinion be a deterrent. Embrace each other, debate and defend your beliefs, and be willing to compromise. Democracy is a constant juggling act and, like any good juggling act, requires that some balls be launched at different intervals and different heights on occasion.

That is all. I know that I can only reach so many people, and that perhaps I’ll read this in the morning and wonder what I was thinking, but here’s my food for thought.

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