Just Words: The World Holds its Breath

"O My Prophetic Soul" Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, Scene 1, Act V

Words are all I have. As a British citizen I cannot vote in this election. I cannot phone canvass. I cannot donate. All I have are words. But  after this amazing  campaign and all the words we've all expended, I just want to release two more crucial words into the blogosphere: thank you.

Thank you for the flames and mojos, criticisms and kudos, thank you for the fail pictures and the polls, for the LOLZ cats and live blogging threads. But above all thank you for your tolerating me here. As a foreigner in these virtual forums I've experienced the best of American hospitality, just as my son has experienced it during the last few days in Pennsylvania, organising, canvassing, getting out the vote.

Thank you. These are just words.  But I cannot vote or donate. Words are all I have.

Words are all I had four years ago when I first became actively engaged in your debates. I had my reasons for being so caught up in the last election, but I was mainly a lurker. But nearly exactly four years ago, on November the fourth 2004, just after the savage and dispiriting defeat, I wrote my first ever diary on a blog to thank Democrats, even in defeat, for providing such inspiration and passion and hard work.

On that terrible day in November 4th 2004, I also tried to write some words of consolation. I don't know how much they helped. I drew analogies from the Labour Party's three successive defeats and 18 years in the wilderness, to encourage you all to rebuild and regroup.

A few days ago I took a look at that diary for the first time in four years and I was stunned to find this:

Just Words - Faith, Hope and Charity

I'm not an American, so this isn't really my role to help formulate these declarations, but I am a writer, and I suspect that you are struggling to find a new language to defeat the faith based rhetoric of Bush...

The Democrats will never win Utah, but they must find a way of (genuinely) engaging heart and head. This doesn't mean cute photo opportunities or last minute appeals to the Catholic base, it has to do with believing that complex issues CAN be explained in clear language, and also not being afraid of passion in politics. Both Kennedy and Roosevelt managed to achieve this sense of engagement and moral clarity (without invoking religion). Barack Obama did it too with his great conference speech. He spoke about faith and God in an inclusive way. Like it or not America is a faith based society, and someone needs to take this on board, and use its missionary instincts for more democratic ends, rather than relinquishing moral values to the Christian Taliban.

Just words. Despite the Shakespeare quotation, I don't claim to be prophetic. Many others were moved by Obama's Convention Speech in 2004. Since then he's said thousands maybe millions more words, and only a few have been awkward or disjointed. Only a few have been erroneous or not full of dignity, weight, policy and poise. America is a remarkable country for creating such a person. And more remarkable still for supporting him in such vast numbers.  

American politics is sometimes vitiated by religion - especially in the last eight years - but some of your best leaders have appealed our faith and hope and love, our spiritual instincts. With Lincoln, Roosevelt, the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King you have created a kind of politics that transcends demographic calculations or policy prescription. These leaders were reasonable, but they also went beyond reason, to the irrational and inexplicable sense of hope and optimism and struggle and redemption. That power to move beyond partisan politics was the underlying subject of my first ever diary in 2004. And I feel now that, whatever happens when the ballots are counted, Obama is another leader of that tradition, and that he has already fulfilled some of my dream.

I'm not a believer myself, but my mother was, and her faith drove her to become a social worker, and to fight poverty, inequality and distress...

It seems to me this is the battle you're engaged with, to recover this language of values and faith for the defence of freedom and social justice. You have to engage the republican right on its own ground, prove how venal, selfish, divisive - in other words - how unchristian it is!

So I have faith in the man, and more importantly faith in your faith in him and ability to do things because of it. And I am not alone.

At the End of the Red Earth Road

Millions around the globe are watching you now. They sense the same hope - that things can be different, that good people can succeed, that the world can be kinder, safer, fairer. It's almost a childish hope. I really didn't think I'd feel it again in my lifetime.

Now millions are watching you cast your votes. And I'm sure you don't me to tell you the result if the world could vote.

Why do we care so much? Of course it's the politics, the impact it will have on our lives when the world's remaining superpower makes such a momentous decision. But it's deeper than that. Roger Cohen, an expatriate Brit and wonderful journalist who covered Bosnia brilliantly for the New York Times, wrote one of the best editorials about this sense of faith and hope and love that isn't bounded by any particular religion.

Nowhere else could a 47-year-old man, born, as he has written, of a father "black as pitch" and a mother "white as milk," a generation distant from the mud shacks of western Kenya, raised for a time as Barry Soetoro (his stepfather's family name) in Muslim Indonesia, then entrusted to his grandparents in Hawaii -- nowhere else could this Barack Hussein Obama rise so far and so fast.

It's for this sense of possibility, and not for grim-faced dread, that people look to America, which is why the Obama campaign has stirred such global passions.

Cohen, as a foreigner, articulates how the American Story is still so powerful, and how despite eight years of being buried, still has this chance to be reborn. That's why the world is hanging in this election. With God or without god, we still have hope. We still have faith.

Cohen also talked about meeting Obama's half sister Auma down the end of reddish earth road in western Kenya, and recounted what she'd said about the democratic nominee.

"He can be trusted to be in dialogue with the world."

I know those red earth roads well. My sister in law is Kenyan and with help from my family and others she runs a orphanage for girls there. I know they are waiting for good news too.

Of all the leaders I've known in my lifetime, Obama has the capacity to reach out to people across classes, ethnicities and nations and inspire them, encourage them, make them believe again. From the far end of the earth, from Africa to Indonesia, from Hawaii to the Brandenburg Gate, we are watching, hoping, not quite able to believe the impossible is happening, and the dream of America could be reborn.

The world holds its breath.

In the meantime all I have is this words. Words of thanks. Words of encouragement. Words of praise. This is not a goodbye cruel world diary. I hope it will soon be an "O what a wonderful morning diary".

But whatever happens, I hope to be in dialogue about these historic few days for years ahead.

Crossposted at Motley Moose

Tags: Barack Obama, campaign, Just words, kenya, possibility, The World (all tags)



Just words?

No... these are not "just words".

Your words are a piece of you, your words show your heart, your words can inspire.

Your take on Obama from 2004 is much like mine from 2004.

I thank you for your words.

by kevin22262 2008-10-31 07:30PM | 0 recs
Thanks Kevin

Always enjoyed your words too

by brit 2008-11-01 03:00AM | 0 recs
Please put up a tip jar!

Your words deserve it!

by kevin22262 2008-10-31 07:31PM | 0 recs
by kevin22262 2008-10-31 07:41PM | 0 recs
Re: This diary

You can find the original here...

http://www.motleymoose.com/showDiary.do? diaryId=579

by chrisblask 2008-10-31 08:33PM | 0 recs
You had me at "Just Words..." n/t

by Liberal Monk 2008-10-31 07:46PM | 0 recs
Way more then that Brit

Sometime during your bloging journey, you became one of us.

All of us are voting for you, all of us voting for Obama are voting for the rest of the world.

BTW, I land in Heathrow on the noon Nov 3rd, heading for Milan.  

So, I will be in your country briefly, and out of mine when the most important election in my life happens.

But, as it sounds like you have I too have already made peace with it.

Brack Obama and his team, Axelrod and Plouffe have run a political campaign for the ages, it's like a symphony, or like a Coltrane album.

If by some unforseen event, McCain triumphs, and I have said this before, it's simply an affirmation that the US time as the Empire of the moment is over.

Even with Obama as President, the first REAL 21st century president, we pass the torch from the Boomers to the Millenial generation, and a new story starts to be written.

Highly rec'ed of course, thanks for your company these past few months.

by WashStateBlue 2008-10-31 07:59PM | 0 recs

Boy... don't you live the "elite" life!  ;)

by kevin22262 2008-10-31 09:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Way more then that Brit

And thanks for your great company too. I'll wave to you at Heathrow en route to Milan - I fly to LA  two days later.

by brit 2008-11-01 03:00AM | 0 recs
Anybody else notice that every remark here

..has been trolled?

by brit 2008-11-02 05:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

I'd like to know who went through my comment history and trolled my last twenty comments. I'm guessing it's one of our recent PUMA visitors, or a sockpuppet. They're regressing and acting out a lot in these last days.

Nice diary, btw.

by BobzCat 2008-11-02 06:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

Thanks. I've had the same experience. Maybe it's my fault. I posted a non controversial comment about Palin and Thatcher at Alegre's corner. Just trying to engage in dialogue.

by brit 2008-11-02 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

Actually, it looks like someone got TU and has been on a spraying zeroes on every Obama supporter on the site, in several diaries. Pretty childish.

by BobzCat 2008-11-02 06:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

That's a hell of a lot of spraying.

And a sad waste of someone's afternoon

by brit 2008-11-02 07:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

On this thread and others.

by mikeinsf 2008-11-02 07:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

Looks like we've all lost our TU status now. Prepare for a last minute troll attack

by brit 2008-11-02 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

I lost mine too. Can't thank you enough Brit for all of your inspiring comments and diaries. You have put Jerome to shame with your tireless support of Obama. It's a testament of how much you care about who ends up as the leader of our country and how much Jerome only cares about clinging to his bitter loss in the primaries.

by venician 2008-11-02 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

Woke up to find my rights Cheneyed, too. That sucks.

I'm in good company, though, so I'll accept the compliment!

by QTG 2008-11-02 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

Brilliant; though the troll ratings have disappeared, I love this new verb 'cheneyed'. Did you just invent it? Or is it common usage now?

I assumed it means (pace current VP) ruined, destroyed, undermined, shot to pieces?

by brit 2008-11-02 01:19PM | 0 recs

I'll take that one.



by chrisblask 2008-11-02 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

Hey, but I met so many great people during this campaign. You included Venician.

by brit 2008-11-02 01:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

Honestly? I know you were very hostile & disrespectful to to me when all I attempted to do was converse and post points that I thought were worth discussion. You instead read things that didn't exist into my posts & then kept debating or ridiculing these made up points that I never posted instead of answering things that I wrote. I never did that to anyone even if I didn't like what they posted. Maybe that is why I still have my ability to troll rate.

by jrsygrl 2008-11-03 01:44PM | 0 recs

I have no idea what you're talking about.

by brit 2008-11-03 03:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

You have the ability to troll-rate because you were a Clinton supporter during the primaries, and the website's proprietor has a long enemies list.

If you really want to know.

by Jess81 2008-11-03 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Anybody else notice that every remark here

That's ridiculous. And during the primaries I initially supported someone else prior to Clinton. Regardless I was treated horribly before by people who are mystified now that they can't troll rate.  And despite that I was just rated "O" for daring to disagree. I don't think my remark was nasty, rather I saw a conversation that I disagreed with and explained a different perspective. And for that I got a "O" by Brit. BTW I didn't troll rate Brit or do anything malicious now even though I had been treated extremely disrespectfully with posts that were not even in response to what I said.  They were so flagrant I actually thought Brit was a Republican trying to stir the pot, because I couldn't understand posts being so unresponsive unless the desire was to get a rise out of the person.  So given that, I posted what I did because I some perspective is in order.

BTW - my posting style is such that as a primary non Obama supporter, and eventual Clinton supporter (when it was down to 2), I had full rating abilities on dkos, and was rarely troll rated (except by one poster who decided to write Bitch over & over & over again in multiple posts b/c she said it was fun to call Clinton that - she had a problem with me that night & started troll rate but aside from that nut case even one person who vehemently disagreed with me wound up calling a truce). My point is that generally I've found even in less than friendly environments most rational people tend to not troll rate me.

by jrsygrl 2008-11-04 12:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words: The World Holds its Breath

I remember in the last election Republicans sent plants down in key swing states (ie OH) to challenge people & make them file a provisional ballot. Is there any plan in action on our side to handle this, this go around on Tues?

by jrsygrl 2008-11-02 02:31PM | 0 recs
kos has it

a whole HELL of a lot of lawyers, people who speak lawyer, and just about anyone who can smell dead fish stinkin' up the place.

Every polling place, a designated observer.

by RisingTide 2008-11-03 05:17AM | 0 recs
Re: kos has it

Yes there were a lot of lawyers last time, and look what good it did.. But what do we do when someone exercises their right to challenge a vote & these votes then turn into provisional ballots? Will we have people on hand to start challenging voters we feel are Republican to try and numerically create the same impact for them or just create chaos so this stops ASAP.

by jrsygrl 2008-11-03 01:40PM | 0 recs
NO, we are better than they are.

and let's make it a voter's holiday!

by RisingTide 2008-11-04 04:53AM | 0 recs
Re: NO, we are better than they are.

Sure let's make it a holiday. But sorry this is all in & we can't afford to be too good to win.

by jrsygrl 2008-11-04 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words: The World Holds its Breath
I lost my TU, too.  And I'm not a mooser!!!
by ChitownDenny 2008-11-02 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words: The World Holds its Breath
BTW, if you posted that picture of Barack on KOS, they'd accuse you of some kind of distortion.
(That's primary snark.)
by ChitownDenny 2008-11-02 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words: The World Holds its Breath


If you were a TRUE Obama supporter you would have moved to the US and gotten US citizenship to vote and donate...  I can't even look at you... You make me sick... ;-)

Seriously, all snark aside, nice diary... wish you could vote... keep up the work in Great Britian.

by yitbos96bb 2008-11-03 03:34AM | 0 recs
Yes we can has

It's been a pleasure.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-03 05:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Yes we can has

You too, man. Since we've been at this for 11 months, in the meantime I've finished my novel. Hope you got back to yours. And would love to see you on the moose sometime - though there's poster with pebbles in his/her handle who might be you

by brit 2008-11-03 05:31AM | 0 recs
Not me at the Moose

But I may sign up eventually now that things here are going to quiet down.  

I haven't gotten back to my novel, but I'm sure I will as soon as it's too cold to ride my bike to work (health has been my free-time priority since May).

Once this is over, my handle is going to change to "The avelanche has begun, the pebbles have voted," or somesuch.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-03 06:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words: The World Holds its Breath

Words are powerful. Don't ever say ' just words'.

by rikyrah 2008-11-03 05:40AM | 0 recs

by brit 2008-11-03 05:42AM | 0 recs


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