I have avoided, thus far, from writing much about the Presidential election. Those of you know me know that I'm a political geek and a capital L liberal. And yet, I've restrained myself from writing much because, well, this isn't a political blog, it's mostly a personal environmentalism blog (among other things.) And I don't believe that climate change should be a right/left issue. I believe the environment should and does have the capacity to cross party lines.
So. For me, that has meant no editorials on why you should vote for Barack Obama, nor charts detailing who has the better environmental track record. I am not out to troll for votes. I believe that you can be a committed environmentalist and vote for John McCain, and what's more, I think, for the sake of us all, there *have* to be committed environmentalists on the other side of the aisle. The Democrats can't solve these problems alone; we need the support of ALL Americans.
But, all that notwithstanding, I have decided, today, to tell you a little about why I am proud to have voted for Barack Obama.
Once upon a time, I was a young girl, who, for whatever reason, dreamed of being president. (Side note: I should add that I have also dreamed at various points in time of being an artist, a maid, an actor, a lawyer, the president of NBC, a teacher, a singer, and an environmental activist. It's a long list.) But the stumbling block I kept coming to, whenever I imagined such a scenario, was that I was an Indian-American, the child of immigrants, a girl. Even then, at a young idealistic age, I knew that in America, you had to be white and male in order to become president. Anytime I thought about being president, I'd hit this stumbling block, and
eventually, I just gave up and stopped dreaming. Because even in my pipe dreams of pipe dreams, I simply could not allow myself to believe that it was possible. Never, no way, no how. I was an American, and proud to be one. I had thousands of opportunities, but president just wasn't one of them.
Then came this election. Suddenly the Democrats were either going to nominate a woman or an African-American, a second-generation American on his father's side. The promise that America holds for all immigrants: that it is a melting-pot, that she welcomes your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, that in America, ANYTHING is possible, well, all that started to feel really true.
This is what Barack Obama represents to me, and thousands of other immigrants, and children of immigrants. This is what Barack Obama represents to the many Africans, South Americans, Canadians, Brits, and Australians who have excitedly pressed me for details about the election in the past weeks. For us, Barack Obama is a symbol of what makes me proudest to be an American: the fact that we truly are a multicultural nation. That we are a nation where thousands of races and religions live together in peace. That we are country where you can eat Korean Barbecue and then drive up La Brea for Iranian ice-cream. That it doesn't matter if your parents came from Kenya, or India, or North Dakota; you CAN still become president.
And in the end, that's why I teared up a little as I checked Obama's name. I may not want to be president anymore, but somewhere out there, I know a young child of immigrants is now free to dream big.
No matter who you are voting for, may you vote with the same sense of pride that I felt.
3 weeks ago