Playing the Radical
Back in 2008 I was a hard-charging Democrat for Obama. I believed in CHANGE. I believed in HOPE. Yes we can. And yes I did buy the buttons and the t-shirts. I wore them too, even in my crimson corner of South Georgia known as Jacksonville, Florida, a place where my bank teller at Wachovia didn't hesitate to inform me that she just didn't "think the country is ready for a black president."
It's not like I went all out with the campaigning stuff. The demands of building Hashrocket and heavy travel schedule kept me occupied. I did however attend several party meetings, befriended Max the local party activist, and donated money, at least a couple thousand dollars. I hosted a primary-watching party at my home. The whole quest restored my sense of belonging to a valuable, life-saving cause, and just in time too. It was happening just as the fervor over Ruby on Rails was starting to subside. Zed had just called our neighborhood a ghetto, and although he was right in so many ways, Rails had already won, so evangelizing it was losing some of its currency.
I even canvassed for Obama a couple of times. Once in Jacksonville Beach and another in Riverside. The experience mainlined snapshots of my childhood deep from the darkest recesses of psyche, stirring memories of Saturday mornings, reluctantly hawking Watchtower and Awake! magazines from door-to-door. My virgin zeal in party politics represented a complete repudiation of everything that I stood for in my youth while still feeling natural. This time I had Democratic party flyers and was reminding people to vote in November instead of suggesting the possibility of living forever in a paradise earth.
I remember 2008 fondly because I love playing the radical. It didn't matter that 51% of the country was on my side. November arrived. Obama won. My friends raised glasses and much celebration ensued. I couldn't get a copy of the Times and settled for a copy of its pathetic cousin, USA Today, which I went to the extreme of framing and hanging with pride on the wall behind my desk at the office. For a moment, I exhaled and felt the satisfaction that comes with making a dent, a contribution, albeit tiny, to making our country, maybe even our world, a better place.
This past election day came and went and I barely noticed. Politics is one of the farthest things from my mind. It just doesn't seem like it's going to make a difference who wins or loses. Despite my doubts about Democrats, I remain a fan of the coolest president in our history.