e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


yes we can

Barack Obama's great rhetorical talent seems to be giving his audience permission to feel optimism. Cynicism, apathy, and doubt are easy defaults, especially, perhaps, for those of us who came of age in the 80s and early 90s. Reagonomics. Ironic popular culture. David Letterman. Social movements of the previous generation providing not inspiration but rather punchlines on sitcoms like Family Ties. Julianna Hatfield singing "I Got No Idols."

We watched Obama's acceptance speech at a party attended mostly by members of our church. Left-leaning Catholics, some who live in the city and some in the suburbs, some black and some white. A group as partisan as the crowd gathered in that huge football stadium, to be sure, who clapped at Obama's punchy quips ("eight is enough") and promises (tax cuts for 95% of Americans, health care for all). A crowd mindful of yesterday's Free Press story about new census data that designates Detroit as the most impoverished large city in the country. A crowd that appreciated Obama's call for optimism.

In addition to optimism, the other feeling in the room was history. The making of history. Not just because Obama is the first black American to accept a major party's domination for president of the U.S. History because we've lived through too many years of an illegal, immoral, pre-emptive war. History because deficits are so high and so many people don't have health care. History. Where were you when people felt like they could be a little bit optimistic?


aerobil said...

I hear ya. Listening to Obama made me realize just how cynical I've been for so damn long. I'm ready for some long overdue optimism.

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

i fear optimism. i was so let down in both 2000 and 2004, and i fear the pre-election meetings and polling tactics; see Ian Inaba -- of the GNN (Guerilla News Network) _American Blackout_ to chill your bones.

i want to believe that American voters *have* had enough. but i worry.

still, last night in SLC, having dinner and drinks w/ friends, Lisa told me that she had been at a Farmer's Market in SLC where she saw a table set up for Obama. upon closer inspection, she saw that it was not just any Obama table. this was an "LDS for Obama" table. oh. well. now, there's hope :)

bdegenaro said...

I'm keeping my fear and skepticism of optimism buried. But I hear you, after let-downs in 00 and 04. One difference: this time it's not just about beating the other guy.