Well, it's another election night eve for me, and lord knows I've been through a lot of them. 41 consecutive years of casting votes for somebody since I turned 21, back in 1971.
The year after I turned 21, I worked on the campaign that successfully gave 18 year olds the vote, when I was already legal, as we used to say. Seems it's my life karma to be early or late, never in perfect step. In other words I have always had to bring my own music and make up my own dance as I went along, while time and circumstance did it's own thing. But that's another story. I digress.
Thinking about what we are about to do again, which is to give the reins of government back to Barack Hussein Obama for another four years, makes me happy, sad and nostalgic all at the same time. On this night, this election eve, the climax of a never ending campaign that started on inauguration day 2009, I'm feeling like what Fannie Lou Hamer said, “I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.” This time around, it was too much. Too much information. Too much lying. Too much pontificating and equivocating. My head hurts.
I've been watching elections since before they were televised in color. I've been voting since before somebody dreamed up HDTV.
General Eisenhower is the first president in my memory. I was born during Truman, but not until just before his election. John Kennedy was the first president I loved. It wounded me deeply when he died. Never met Lynchin Bains Johnson. That's what we called him. He signed the Civil Rights Bills into Law, but that didn't endear him to me. Not then.
Rumor had it that he was nuts. We had a crazy man in the White House, who may have had our beloved JFK killed. However, nobody really knows or will ever know who hired the gunmen on the grassy knoll down in Dallas that day.
Nixon was the first president with whom I shook hands, both he and his wife. Didn't vote for him. Wasn't quite old enough to vote against him. Do know I didn't like his bigotry. Smacked of the same ole shit being dished out by the likes of George Wallace and Bull Connor, except this man occupied the White House.
I was still naive enough back in the day to believe that if a man could rise to the level of President, he certainly couldn't also be a bigot or a racist, not really. Silly me.
Gerald Ford, the man who took over for Tricky Dick Nixon was a decent man. I was a working reporter by the time he came into office and I was humbled by the fact that he knew me on sight and called me “jo.” President Carter was another decent man who has been totally disrespected and wrongfully forgotten.
I interviewed Ronald Reagan four times, starting in 1976 at the Republican convention and could never get past the fact that I was talking to an actor, somebody who was playing a part in a B movie. The conversations were great, but I never bought the good guy act. His voodoo economics initiated the downfall of the American Middle Class and the decline of Unions as well as worker's rights.
Daddy Bush, Bill Clinton and Junior Bush were merely days at work...more fun with Clinton, less so with George the elder and George the younger. The younger Bush especially was like hitching a ride across the ocean on a boat named Titanic with no Leonardo DiCaprio to save my ass.
And then comes Barack Obama.
I was not a supporter in the beginning. I didn't believe a Black man could be elected in America. I dreamed of the possibility, but expected to be dead by the time it actually happened. I believed the racists were too strong to let it happen. I still believe they will turn out tomorrow in an attempt to keep him from a second term.
And I still fear for his life. Because in this country, it's a truth that what white men can't control, they kill. They kill when their status quo is threatened, and Barack Obama is the walking, talking example of threat to the complacency of the masters of the universe.
Obama is one of the few people who can move me to tears. I cried when he won in 2008. I cried at his Inauguration. I cried when I heard him speak last night.
But Last night at the UC arena, I also heard within his speech echoes of the last speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, and it bothered me.
“I have been to the mountaintop....”
Those uncomfortable echoes are resting heavily on me tonight, as I write this now.
In the meantime....I will happily vote tomorrow to move this country forward, and wait for what I hope will be a joyous night. History to be made, and a happy ending to be written. A celebration of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama.
To be continued......................................