Elena and I are now back in California, and we’ll be here (staying at my mom’s in L.A., and then in the Bay Area) for a few weeks taking care of her citizenship appplication. I’m suffering a bit of jetlag so I’m up before dawn, watching Obama’s victory speech on the internet. I tried to get my mom’s TV to work last night so I can follow the numbers as they come in from the various states, but I think she cancelled all her services while she was away so I had to resort to the internet to be updated on the results.
I was born in 1972 in Taiwan, and my first memory of an American president was of Carter, when Taiwan expressed indignation at his move to recognize China and giving Taiwan the cold shoulder. In our elementary school we had politically charged class assignments/art contests (let’s just say it was propaganda and brainwashing), and I remember I painted a picture of Carter and the “Commie Thugs” shaking hands, while stepping on the skeletons piled high on the island of Taiwan.
When my family moved to California, Reagan’s term was in full swing, and the 80′s were decadent. I don’t recall too much of what I thought of Reagan since I was busy learning English and adjusting to a new life in a different country.
When Bush Sr. took office, I was in my sophmore year in high school, and I remember distinctly that I did not like him. There was something shady about his demeaner, and perhaps my gut instinct was right as years later we learn about the extent of Bush family’s involvement in 9/11.
During my high school years, alternative music was rising in popularity, and exploded in the early 90′s with the grunge movement. The teenagers of that decade were a lot more politically conscious because it was hip at the time to have opinions about socio-political issues expressed by their favorite alternative bands. I think it was the interest of the youth in politics that lead to Clinton’s victory. He was the young and hip president, and it was hard not to like him over the others. Overall, my impression of Clinton remains fairly positive despite the ridiculous sexaul scandals, though it was during his presidency that I experienced failed promises first hand (such as gay marriage issues). I had realized that during the election, any idealistic hopes are simply just that–idealism. Once in office, the president will face many opposing voices and his lone voice will not prevail if he cannot convince others to follow his lead.
When Bush Jr. won, my faith in the system dropped all the way down and hit the floor. Not only did I lose faith in the election process, I also lost faith in the majority of Americans. It was during that time I felt the gravity of the difference between the blue and red states. The difference in ideals cast a shadow over my faith in America as a country, because the majority voice of America stopped representing what I believed in. When Bush Jr. won the re-election, I was stunned. I suspected foul play like many others, because it was easier to believe that than to accept the stunning stupidity of the American people who voted for him again. To put it mildly, I just don’t think he is someone that should ever have made it into the White House. The man behaves like an over-grown frat-boy and I have no idea why the majority of Americans would find a fumbling bully appealing.
When the 2008 presidential race began, I didn’t pay too much attention because I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about Hilary Clinton, and I thought she had a strong chance in winning. When Obama overtook her, I became a bit more interested because he had the kind of aura about him that I thought was similar to JFK and Bobby Kennedy–both men I like very much. When Obama and McCain went head to head, my ears perked up. When Palin entered the picture and started embarrassing herself and McCain by being the most ignorant and inept political figure I had ever seen, I finally felt that fire stirring–that I cannot allow Palin to be one step away from the presidency. That woman makes Bush Jr. look smart and it’s absolutely terrifying to me to think she could be presiding over the most powerful country on this planet. It was then I felt like I needed to do something, but I was in China and we were knee-deep in the construction of our new home. We had planned to fly back to California in late October but it got pushed back to early November due to construction problems, and by the time we had things sorted out it was too late for me to register to vote. This is a lesson I learned the hard way–next time I will be ready.
I have to date never voted because I have always been pessimistic about politics despite being a very idealistic person in my private life. My brother was a politician and I know the underhanded dealing intimately, and it’s all just a big circus to me, where people are forced to scratch each other’s backs or nothing ever gets done. In an environment like that, how can anyone remain pure and just? If there’s no incentive for others to help you without something in it for them, how can you make positive changes when the real power is in the hands of the rich and priveledged?
I have often lamented that in today’s pessimistic and cynical world, we need new heroes to inspire us and give us hope–to show us that it’s not just about the bottomline but doing the right thing, upholding justice, and promoting peace. Though I didn’t get to vote this time, I support Obama because he’s my kinda guy. The way he sees the world and the way he expresses himself–he’s a kindred spirit. His mixed heritage and cultural upbringing is something I find appealing because it’s similar to my own, and I for one have always believed that we should be a world without borders–be it racial, cultural, geological, sexual, or religious. I think maybe Obama is the one I’ve been waiting for. Only time will tell if he is the true torch bearer of the Kennedy ideals.