Marika Malaea

faithful marauder + fake royal

PEOPLE FIRST

with 16 comments


This week I said, for the first time in my life, “I am proud to be an American.” That doesn’t mean I haven’t been an American, or don’t appreciate our great nation, only that I didn’t connect with this country in any visceral way. It was just the country we happened to live in, a collection of states I’d never been to, a political system that seemed severely flawed. I’d never been politically-minded, because it seemed like politics was for Other People: the rich, the religious, the academic and the truly insane. I am none of those things, and so I never sought to include myself. I never saw myself as someone the government would help or hinder; I felt okay with being a non-entity, a person who would make their way through the world no matter who was in office. I voted little, and when I did, made uninformed choices; I had very little faith in how much much my voice would be heard. I had very little faith in the process, and in the leadership of this country.

In the beginning of the Barack Obama campaign, ‘HOPE’ was a dirty word; it was a word you only threw around when there was nothing left to cling to. But I gave up hope for America, and the things that I wanted for her, a long time ago, so that word was completely accurate. I thought, ‘maybe we can teach English in another country for a year when the GOP wins again–maybe we can check out Mexico, because I’ve never been–maybe Canada or Timbuktu holds a brighter future for us, because I cannot go through this again’. Thanks to the last eight years with this administration, I thought that to be an American meant to silently struggle, and to never have a say in the outcome. I talked with friends–‘rich and poor, young and old, Republican, Democrat, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled’–and most of them were as disinterested in the process as myself. But we weren’t disinterested, only disappointed with the direction our country was going in. A lot of people, two of them my downstairs neighbors, implied they weren’t interested in voting, and I actually felt the same.

As the campaign went forward, I began to get interested. I didn’t understand what ‘change’ Obama was talking about when it seemed like EVERYTHING IN OUR NATION needed a change. Like everyone else, I questioned his experience, background, and near-celebrity status–but I was still interested. Pretty soon, I had bookmarked The Huffington Post, Politico, NPR, The National Review, The Atlantic, CNN, Newser, Bill O’Reilly, and many others, so I could do political research online. I wanted the left and right opinions, so that I could form an opinion of my own down the middle. I got more involved. Once Obama won the ticket, I wrote in favor of his campaign on my blog; I had never taken a political side before. I got a lot of heat from scared people–each one more religious than the last, which was interesting, and seems par for the course when it comes to uninformed fearmongering–who screamed TERRORIST! MUSLIM! ARAB! SOCIALIST! COMMUNIST! KENYA! BLACK! LIBERAL! INEXPERIENCED! CELEBRITY! But to me, the only negative thing on that list was ‘terrorist’, which he clearly wasn’t, and maybe ‘Communist’, but that just made me laugh. People really thought that he could be elected and then ALL OF A SUDDEN turn this country into a Communist one? Serious LOL. Obama’s so-called inexperience was unimportant to me once Sarah Palin was on the GOP ticket; I listened to a wide-range of hypocrisy over it, but used it to do more research into ‘my candidate’. I was patient with the screaming anti-Obama folks, because I know that fear can completely rule your life without even being aware of it; I saw that ‘hope’ was a luxury those people could not afford, and that it was easier to stay mired in the COUNTRY FIRST mindset. But when I saw the COUNTRY FIRST banners, the message I got was: PEOPLE LAST. I tried convincing my neighbors, my online friends, and my extended family to vote, with very little success–but I was still involved. I was trying to be a part of the process, for the first time ever.

I wore a pin supporting Obama, which was unusual for me, but I wanted to be a part of the larger discussion; people for and against Obama struck up conversations with me, and I had a chance to get many different viewpoints. I met like-minded people, and we did what we could for the campaign: researching the truth, joining MoveOn.org, getting people registered in their counties, trying to convince our hopeless friends to vote. I felt like I was included, finally, in this thing called America; I had a voice. Not that America had been specifically excluding me, but I finally understood what it meant to stand behind a candidate. We were fighting the fabled ‘good fight’.

On Election Day, I stayed away from the internet, and we don’t have a working TV, so I didn’t have to turn that on, either. I didn’t talk to very many people, and I couldn’t sit still long enough to blog. I knew my life was going to be changed, for better or worse, and I just wanted to be quiet. Self-reflection is one of the cornerstones of moving forward, and I knew, whether Obama won or not, I wanted to move forward in my life. The ‘hope’ this campaign has given me lies more in how I feel personally, and less how I feel politically: I just want to be a better person. And thanks to this campaign–one that I felt was run with integrity–I feel that working to better our country did and will enable me to better myself. I don’t just mean professionally or financially, but in my family, relationships, and community–everywhere. What better way to lead by example to my 10-year old son than by getting involved and making a difference? I know that’s such a canned answer, but Miss America would be proud.

Like many people, I have wept all week long, unable to believe that Barack Obama is our new President-elect; I’m doing it right now, in fact. I cried because ‘hope’ and ‘change’ weren’t just annoying buzzwords; because his speech moved me in ways I’ve never been moved before; because people around the world are going to like us again; because I’m finally a part of the majority. I cried from relief that we’re doing something new and different in this country; for my child’s future, and for my own; and knowing my two neighbors went out this year and actually voted. I was so proud of them, and proud of us as a nation. I feel that more than just one narrow group of people are finally being represented, and that the things I want for America are more a possibility today than they were one week ago. I was reminded why it’s so great to be a human with choices, and why this country is filled with potential; my cynicism, long since cultivated and stoked and cherished, fell away like a mask I’d been wearing for years. When I re-read Obama’s speech today, I cried the way I did when my son was born–which makes perfect sense, because I think our country has a chance at a new beginning. Snotty McSnotterson is proud to be an asshole, but Marika Malaea Burkhart is proud to be an American.

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Written by sn0tteh

November 8, 2008 at 5:16 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

16 Responses

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  1. What surprised me was how easily the GOP rolled over and played dead. By 11:00pm ET that election was over. I have felt this country has been in limbo for eight years with periodic bouts of self-destruction. I am always interested in the political climate of this country. It tells me whether I’m going to be employed, and happily so for at least four years. Chris and I were privately making plans to move to the UK if Obama lost the election. We had been going through the visa process for immigration for the last 18 months. So I know what you mean about finding a place with more promise. For now, we’re putting those visa’s on hold but we’re retaining our passports. I’m proud of Obama’s win and I appreciate his sacrifice. He has a big mess to clean up. Know that you aren’t crying alone this week. Want to put together an inauguration party with me? LOL

    Erin

    November 9, 2008 at 1:22 AM

  2. Is that audacity I’m hearing?!?!?!

    Manthony

    November 9, 2008 at 5:01 AM

  3. Great post. Wonderful.

    barbjensen

    November 9, 2008 at 6:22 AM

  4. Erin: INAUGURATION ALL THE WAY! I know people who are going to DC for it, and I wish I was going with them.

    Snotty McSnotterson

    November 9, 2008 at 4:36 PM

  5. I am damn proud to be an American asshole!

    Buttercup

    November 9, 2008 at 8:10 PM

  6. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Awwww yeeeeeaaaahhhh!

    Manthony

    November 9, 2008 at 11:28 PM

  7. Very nice post! Power to the people!

    Mathias N Oz

    November 10, 2008 at 2:20 AM

  8. Can I say I would like to have a bullet list with review of the best bacon in town? I wanna know so I can take Julianna the bacon lover.

    Buttercup

    November 10, 2008 at 2:36 AM

  9. It has become a pretty regular part of my day to get to work and read your blog as part of my avoidance of actually doing work. Today, this Monday morning, is the first time that I read with disgust, shame and disappointment. I can’t say I have ever known you to be such an outright and blatant LIAR. Yes, I have known you for years and have listened to you spin many a tall tale, but this was just…deplorable. Right there through the glow of my screen, I am forced to start my day with such sad feelings towards a long time friend. I never thought I would see you take this page to near tabloid levels.

    To claim that you actually know and are “friends” with even one disabled person, much less the plural…there aren’t even words to describe my disgust at this outrage.

    I hope we can one day move past this.

    Kiki

    November 10, 2008 at 2:17 PM

  10. Buttercup, you are an American asshole. I’m proud of you for it.

    Snotty McSnotterson

    November 10, 2008 at 4:24 PM

  11. KIKI, I TOTALLY KNOW TWO DISABLED PEOPLE, SO HA! The first one is me: I’m mentally disabled (you know it’s true). The second one is you: you’re emotionally disabled. Although when talking to other people about you, I generally substitute the ‘disabled’ with ‘crippled’, but you get the idea. See? We fit the criteria.

    There have to be others… if not, whatever. I’ve met enough through my dad when he was a special-needs teacher, and I think you would agree with me when I say I was married to a special needs person.

    Snotty McSnotterson

    November 10, 2008 at 4:29 PM

  12. Thanks, Mathias–“Power to the People” is right.

    Snotty McSnotterson

    November 10, 2008 at 4:30 PM

  13. Great post!

    I agree with everything you said.

    I believe in him!

    Marko

    November 10, 2008 at 5:17 PM

  14. We’ve got to lead by example for those who don’t believe… wow, I sound almost religious! My grandparents would have been so proud.

    Snotty McSnotterson

    November 10, 2008 at 5:35 PM

  15. As you are one of the bloggiest I know, you should be aware of this, if you aren’t already: http://www.change.gov.

    Jenny

    November 10, 2008 at 9:22 PM

  16. Yep, thanks Jenny–I submitted a story there, actually. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Snotty McSnotterson

    November 10, 2008 at 10:41 PM


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