Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Breaking

It's over.

Some of us are elated and some are not. We deserve some time to mourn, to gloat, to breathe, to read something just for fun. In all our many ways we have worked hard for well nigh two years while this election process has spooled out then wound us up and we are, truly, lucky to have survived it all. I'd say "survived intact" but I'm not sure I did. I changed and my opinions of others sure as shooting did. You betcha.

I was not too terribly surprised to see my home state of NH go blue this time around. It's a major change from the way the state was leaning when I was younger but it's been coming along over time. I was a little surprised it went over so firmly. ME, however, surprised the living daylights out of me. I have a lot of life long Mainers in my family, mostly north of, say, Sanford (my New England geography is not perfect but I know it when I pass it on the turnpike) and "liberal" and "democrat" were not words I would have used to describe them. Ever. So to see Maine go for Obama has felt like a mirage, a really delicious mirage.

While the results were trickling in Zelda sent me this link. It was a piece in the NY Times in September but I'm a terribly lazy citizen and never read the paper so I missed it. It is an imagined conversation between Jed Bartlett and Barack Obama as written by Aaron Sorkin. Go read it before you continue here. Sorkin's writing deserves to be read fresh and I'm going to talk about it really specifically so I'll spoil it for you. Be unspoiled. The rest of my stuff will wait.

Seriously.

As ever, Sork preaches his beliefs and his issues. He, and his characters, don't have a lot of experience with holding back. In this piece Bartlett is his usual, witty self. He is certain to put his own opinions and "accomplishments" in perspective. He's not afraid, though, to take Obama to task. He encourages the President-Elect to be stronger, to be firmer, to be angrier. He advocates, as Bartlett always did, getting things done instead of talking about them. Which is amazing coming from a writer whose witty word count is beaten only by the gloriously verbose Amy Sherman-Palladino.

There are a number of fabulous quotes:

"I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage."

"The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it."

"BARTLET Brains made me look arrogant but they make you look uppity. Plus, if you had a black daughter —

OBAMA I have two.

BARTLET — who was 17 and pregnant and unmarried and the father was a teenager hoping to launch a rap career with “Thug Life” inked across his chest, you’d come in fifth behind Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and a ficus."


Any way you slice it ficus = comedy. The most important, though, is at the very end. If you've never seen the West Wing (heathen!) and you've refused to read the piece (maverick!) I'll give you the background. Whenever Bartlett's people hit a snag all hell would break loose. People threatened to quit and they yelled and Bartlett himself would get to the brink of giving up or giving in and then someone (oh how beautiful is fiction) would come up with a viable plan of attack and Bartlett would round up all the troops and say, "Break's over" then storm off to get to work.

I echo a number of my good friends today as I advocate taking Bartlett's words to heart. Take today. Hell, take the week! Take a break, writhe around in your emotion of choice to your heart's content but on Monday that break is over. Whether you voted for this guy or not he's our president (as of January) and he's got a lot of work to do. We did a lot of work during the campaign, not the least of which was forcing each other to define what we want of and for our country and ourselves. It is now our job to keep the elected officials as honest as possible and to put pressure on them to do as they promised and to solve the maddening problems our country and our planet are facing.

I don't think that President-Elect Obama is perfect. I don't think he's a messiah or a solution unto himself. One of the things I revere most about him, though, is that he doesn't think those things either. He knows that the job is going to be so much more difficult than any of us can imagine and he acknowledges that. He knows that he cannot do it alone and, accordingly, he has run a campaign using words like "we" and "us" and "our" so that no one should be in doubt that he expects as much participation after the election as he did before. Part of me would, of course, like nothing better to heave a sigh of relief now that the electing is done and leave it all up to the folks in Washington to make the world one I want to live in but that's not what I signed on for when I cast my vote for Barack Obama.

I once attended a Quaker wedding and a member of the meeting explained to we non-Quakers that by being there we were pledging to support and assist this union in any way possible. Marriage is hard and all reasonable help should be given and by attending this ceremony each of us promised to provide that aid. My impression of the Obama campaign is the same. I participated in the process and I threw my support behind a man who has promised many ambitious things and now I must provide all reasonable support for the achievement of those aims. Perhaps as a veteran, serial voter I need to help those people who voted for the first time in this election to continue to vote regularly even when the stakes are lower. Perhaps as a supporter of a woman's right to choose I need to spread my word farther and wider. Perhaps as someone who had her doubts about this candidate I need to help people who continue to doubt him to bring their doubt to the game in the name of helping our country. There is plenty of work to go around.

So, while I am, admittedly, elated about this collection of victories we are experiencing I am sobered by the responsibilities that come with them. I plan to celebrate and enjoy and maybe even talk about it a little while longer but by Monday....

Break's over. Break's fucking over.

7 comments:

  1. *standing up and clapping*

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  2. This is gorgeous. You've articulated what I've been trying to say all day - this isn't the END, People; it's the BEGINNING. NOW is when the REAL work starts.

    When Mr. Chili and I were married, we asked our pastor to ask the people who came to our wedding to pledge their support to our union. The truth of the matter is that none of us is complete in and of ourselves, and that we're all interconnected. I think Obama's genius is that he GETS that, and he inspires us (ME, anyway) to be fully and completely participatory. Never in my life have I felt like the little, seemingly inconsequential work that I do as a teacher, an ally, and a parent been so important to the NATION.

    Yes; yes, we can. I signed up for it, and I'm ready to get to work. What's next?

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  3. Hmmmm - I was expecting a certain someone to chime in....

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  4. So very well said.

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  5. Z, that is a new word for me. I had to google it. Love it!

    Chili, me too. She's still around, I can see her on the sitemeter but apparently I haven't been inflammatory enough yet.

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  6. I feel like after Jan. 20th it will be Obama's moment to ask us to make sacrifices, or to volunteer. People are ready for this (I think, I hope).

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