Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dear President-Elect Obama:


Dear President-Elect Obama,

This morning, November 5th, I am bone-tired and my speaking voice is worn-out from a long day volunteering at the polls. But even as I write this, I am weeping with elation at what might be the closest thing to a miracle I’ll ever see. Your election inspires hope for a more just, more equitable, and more compassionate America than I along with millions of others have seen in a long while. We believe in you and will continue to work for and with you as you undertake the daunting task of recreating our country around what are really its oldest and most precious ideals: opportunity for every citizen, individual and collective responsibility, the conservation of our environment, and the immense value of education. We will also hold your feet to the fire every step of the way—just as you tell us we must—because we aren’t invested merely in the rhetoric of justice and opportunity; we are committed to realizing, to living, this promise. We will expect no less from you than what we have expected these last weeks and days from ourselves, and I can assure you that has been a great, great deal.

Nowhere have I seen the hope symbolized by your presidency realized more authentically than in the tireless work of the Obama campaign team here in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. I can’t even express in words with what high esteem I hold each and every one of these volunteers. Were any one of these folks, especially the excellent young members of your grassroots organizing team, at your breakfast table this morning, you’d know just how this historic victory was won, with what hope we invest you, and how seriously we take our responsibility to build a better country. We are the citizens of a small college town in Pennsylvania—but we’re also a microcosm of the better world we hope to live in.

I also want you to know, Mr. President-Elect Obama, about the students of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. They’re magnificent. These students—like so many others all over the country—stood in line for hours to vote. Not all of them voted for you, but this is, of course, irrelevant. They VOTED, some for the first time, all with good humor, awaiting pizza and popsicles, listening to live music, telling “comfortable shoe” jokes. No atmosphere could have better personified the democratic process than this beautiful day. They came out in record numbers; they helped each other; they made new friends, they danced in the streets at word of your victory, and most of all, they participated in history.

This election has been about so many things, Mr. President-Elect. It’s been about the divisive and painful history of race and racism in America; it’s been about an immoral war; it’s been about 48 million people without health care; it’s been about an economy despoiled by greed. But mostly it’s been about whether we can continue to believe in the promise of democracy amidst such challenges. Yes we can. And as we have shown you, yes we will.

Wendy Lynne Lee
Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania (508 words)