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Nov. 04, 2008

On the Eve of an Historic Presidential Election

by Miriam Gordon

We are living at a truly monumental moment in history, as we stand on the brink of what will probably be one of the most important presidential elections in all of United States history. The air is absolutely crackling with the anticipation of the election of the first African American President of the United States of America.

If Barack Obama does indeed win the election, as he is expected to do based on numerous national polls, it will energize the majority of the people in this nation with the feeling that the most tenuous and lofty of our dreams can become a reality. Back in 1955, when Rosa Parks performed one of the most famous acts of civil disobedience in United States History, who would have guessed that African Americans, who were slaves in this country just over a century ago, could reach the heights of acceptance and affirmation that we are witnessing at this moment?

For me, this aspect of the election eclipses so many of the issues that will no doubt come into stark relief once the honeymoon is over. John McCain is a great man and a true American hero, but with the economy so bad, any incumbent would hardly stand a chance. Despite McCain’s status, he can not possibly eclipse what Barack Obama stands for. In troubled economic times, Obama offers the sheer energy of dreams come true. The citizens of this country need this feeling, desperately. In this aspect, it resembles the hope that Franklin Delano Roosevelt offered the American people during the depths of the Great Depression.

Undoubtedly, there are Americans who still harbor racial prejudice, and will view the election of Barack Obama as a tragedy. I can only hope that they, or their children, will be able to overcome this prejudice once they see what Barack Obama can do for them and their country.

I am an obese, white, Jewish woman who is a member of not one, nor two, but three maligned social constituencies. I support Barack Obama’s candidacy for many reasons, not just those I mentioned above. If he wins, I will be overwhelmingly elated. There is a poem which first aired on NPR’s All Things Considered on October 28, 2008, that best sums up these feelings:

"Rosa sat so Martin could walk.

Martin walked, so Obama could run.

Obama is running so our children can fly."

These sentiments, which represent the struggle and ultimate triumph of the black community in the United States, truly mirror life’s struggles, and in that sense, speak to all humanity.

About Miriam Gordon

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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