I'm still in a daze after our country elected Donald Trump. I've been searching for something to hang my hat on. Eventually, I remembered an old ad from Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. The ad's source material comes from a stump speech that Obama gave in Fredericksburg, Virginia in the pouring rain. It's vintage Obama on full display: enthusiastic and full of promise. So much has happened since we first elected Obama, but I still find the ad a salve in these complicated times. It's sappy, I know. But I think the words are instructive.
Throughout his speech, Obama plays with literal and metaphorical references to the storm they are in:
I understand times are hard. This won't be easy. The storm hasn't quite passed yet. Sometimes the skies look cloudy. And it's dark. And you think, "The rains will never pass."
I definitely feel a fear for the future. So much feels unknown and what feels known already scares me.
But Obama doesn't stay in this despair for too long. Only as he can do, Obama pivots to the audacity of hope:
But here's what I understand: that as long as all of us are together, as long as we are all committed, then there's nothing we can't do. That's why we started off this campaign saying, "Yes we can."
Then, he brings us all into a community of hope:
That's why we understood that black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native-American, young, old, rich, poor — it doesn't matter, we're all Americans. And our destiny will be shaped by us.
I think the inclusivity of hope is so important and an antidote to the vitriol of the 2016 campaign.
He then turns to the young generation so crucial to his organizing and election:
And this young generation that's out here... The young people of America understand that the clouds, these too, will pass. That a brighter day will come.
I like to think that Obama is referencing one of my favorite adages: "This too shall pass." I'm sure folks have seen the map of how young people voted in 2016, showing that politics might look different in the future.
Crucially, hope is an active thing. Obama closes with his call to action:
That you if you are willing work for it. If you are willing to roll up your sleeves. If you are willing to lock arms and march and talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors, make a phone call, do some organizing, yes do some community organizing. Then I promise you, Fredericksburg, we will win Virginia. We will win this general election. And you and I together, we will change the country and change the world.
The only way out is through. Know hope and move forward, forward, forward.