Opening My Political Heart
“I know a place, ain’t nobody cryin’…I’ll take you there…” and take us there you promised. I find it hard to believe that the magic of the 2008 campaign was for naught; a politician’s line to get the goods – votes. I watched you mesmerize the world with word, deed and smile. Your story is the stuff of dreams; a black man in the White House. The more there are of those who object to your home, the stronger our society becomes because these nay-sayers; birthers, the radically religious and the bitterly bigoted are seen for what they are – weak threads in our American quilt. You are responsible for this strength. Our elections too, hold in relief the inner workings of a system that is far from broken – like a car with a straight jacket in place of seatbelts. The car runs fine but it is a car where the driver is promised not to be hurt as long as he doesn’t veer from course. It is what I tell friends who hold their heads at the continued sameness of our political system. I am constantly reiterating the good: health care, stimulus and the pride carried on the shoulders of all my African-American students – especially male students. You have tightened the belts around many baggy-panted adolescents who want respect for something more than engendering fear.
This car, at times careening out of control, drives you to questionable places – like to the national coffers for money for wars on foreign soils seeming to ignore the war here – the war for jobs, education, food. Again, I am reminded of the straightjacket – and the image of you at home unable to move, victimized by by-partisan politics is disturbing.
What do I want? I want to get to that “place” before my death, before I am moved to look up Canadian relatives. I want to tell others to trust in our president – the man not the politician straight-jacketed in a car running on greed and avarice. I want not to see the perpetrators of our economic decline elevated to positions of honor. You cannot honor those who cherish only the momentary coin-of-the-realm. I’ve seen your lesson-plans, you know all of this but (I want so badly to believe) it’s the car with the modified seatbelt that makes you, at times, so different than the man so many voted for. I want to get back to the magic wrought by the inauguration day photo of thousands walking peacefully through the DC tunnels to bear witness to history – hundreds of thousands of private moments without incident: Our political Woodstock.
I remain hopeful. The interstices of my heart are filling, as I write this, with the gooey, sticky substance that, often mocked, does its share to bind us in forward motion. Part of me wants to believe your next term will be lived, impediments off, with you finally free to continue steering the national vehicle in the direction of people and planet-saving policies.
I trust. I hope. And I’ve lived long enough to know – I am not alone