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After coming home late with my mom from the a San Francisco precinct, I immediately went online to see the results of the last of the Democratic primaries. Yes, I will confess to breaking out in a happy dance with my mom as we witnessed history in the making. Not solely because the first African-American was selected as the presidential nominee for a major party in our lifetime (though it should be acknowledged that Obama is half Kenyan, half Caucasian); but, what he said, and what he has said throughout his campaign, as well as the public's response to his words.
In his victory speech in St. Paul, Obama said, "because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations." As I've done in the past, I chewed on these words for a bit. I thought about how Obama, after graduating from a prestigious university, turned down offers by Corporate America to work as "stipend man" (a role many of us in the progressive movement have been in at least once) in the innercity streets of Chicago. As a fellow companion in the progressive movement, I'm sure Obama has also met his share of temptations, doubts, fears, and even confusion with regards to his social justice work. However, there is clearly a difference between facing challenges and temptations and giving in to them.
By the same token, I admire Clinton's tenacity and perseverance in her campaign. Even in the face of difficult odds and pressure to back down, Clinton continued to fight vigorously for the nomination because in her strong belief that she could competently fill the role of the U.S. presidency. What if Obama and Clinton did not have the audacity to run as the first African-American or female president, respectively, of the United States? What if they let the fears and doubts of many skeptic Americans, including those within their immediate social circle, suppress their aspirations of creating a new America? History is filled with "what ifs" and examples of when people started to work collectively and believe in a better world, even in the face of heavy opposition. From women's suffrage rights to Civil Rights, to workers/union rights and immigrant rights-- generations before us have and continue to hope and aspire for an America that is within reach.
Cuban revolutionarist, Che Guevara, once said, "Let me say, at the risk of appearing ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love." I know the work that lies ahead in the progressive movement will have its share of trials and disappointments. Nevertheless, by focusing on my love of humanity and this country, I know I can continue to hope, sweat, and dream big.