For a long time there has been a latent despair in my generation. We've grown up in a culture of bad news, where positive stories are brief fluffy blurbs quickly shoved aside for more interesting reports about serial murders and rapists. While at a personal level there is some amount of optimism, at the national level I, at least, have felt powerless and uninvolved.
In past elections I was completely disinterested. The primaries were merely a reminder that later that year there'd be a vote for the next president. When it finally was my chance to vote for the first time, my vote was cast via mail. The macabre detachment from the process did nothing but cement the feeling of futility. The same mistakes made the term before were made again, and hopelessness set in.
So when I found myself riveted to the election news late last year I became confused. The political depression I experienced was lifting, and I didn't know why. I had long since stared into the fact of bureaucracy and looked away, seeing no hope that I might effect a change. Yet here I was, glued to each tidbit and story about the progress of the presidential hopefuls.
Looking back, I realize that it all started when I listened to Barack Obama's speech where he announced his candidacy. I didn't realize it then, but it came to me now why stirred me.
It's not because Obama is a great public speaker, or because his policies are somehow better, or because he might be the first president who isn't a white anglo-saxon protestant male. It wasn't that he's a democrat in a time where republicans are generally out of the good graces of the nation, or that he was able to raise so much money. It was something far simpler.
At the very heart of what Obama says each and every speech is a simple thought and principle, hope. Even though he spoke multiple times of "the audacity of hope" it never clicked with me that this was why I had been energized.
Beyond policy, electability, polls and presence it is this message that has the "young voters" excited about Obama. We've been drowning in the pessimistic thought that there's nothing we can change, and he has done more than throw us a life preserver. It's as though he's personally dived into the waters.
Whether or not Obama is the best candidate for President is beyond the scope of this blog. I don't know who will come out ahead today for the Democrats, or if they can go on to win the full election. All I know is that I'm clinging to hope.