I've been wanting to believe in hope.
I got on the "Yes We Can" bandwagon last winter. I listened to that darn video over and over again. I even read up on will.i.am. I strove to be hip enough to identify all the people singing the song, saying the words, playing the music.
I got a little excited about the possibility that we might be living in a country where it was not inevitable that all presidents and even all presidential nominees would be straight and white and male and Christian (nominally, anyway). I began to believe our norms could shift, at least a little bit, that the door might be open for some other combination of human characteristics to rise to the top of the political world.
But there are people ready to make us hate and fear brown skin just as there would have been people ready to make us hate and fear breasts on or PMS or menopause in a presidential candidate, and that they would play on fears and prejudices when the real issue is who gets to control the economy is really, really sickening.
After hearing the linked story on NPR, I came home and turned on the convention feeling discouraged, disillusioned.
And then I saw them, the delegates, going through the totally geeky exercise of the roll call vote.
I love the roll call vote. I love the state party people getting their moments in the spotlight, the recollection of Senators gone by, the naming of favorite teams and hometown boys and first women to serve in various jobs and how many Native Americans are in the delegation–I love all of it.
I watched my first roll call vote in 1972. I was 11, and my godmother, Maggie, let me stay up until that wild, late hour when McGovern finally won the nomination. (She thought someone might take a shot at him and didn't want to miss anything! Weird, as I look back on it.) I adored it, and the longer it took, the more I loved it.
I was a political child, you know. McGovern's nomination turned out to be a disaster for my dad, who spent the rest of his campaign for re-election to the Senate trying not to answer the question of support for McGovern, eventually losing to a Republican who got a lot of out-of-state advertising money at the last moment.
Because of that experience in my young life, I tend to swing wildly between hope and despair when it comes to politics.
Tonight it was a not-so-successful former President who made me feel better again, sitting outside the convention hall with Chris Matthews and my TV boyfriend, talking about the way the world has changed since he was a little boy growing up in Plains, Georgia. It was a not-so-successful former President who once gave me his autograph at the airport when he came to Historic Billsburg to debate President Ford in 1976. I liked him then, and I like him more now.
So thank you, Jimmy Carter, for saying you believe racism is on its way out. I hope, I hope, I hope you're right.