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.

Oh, well.

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.

11 thoughts on “Hope-i-ness”

  1. I liked him, too. He was the first president I could have voted for. But I didn’t. I voted for Jerry Brown in the primary. And I voted for John Anderson in the general. I’m sorry. I was young and knew not what I did.

  2. If you’re interested in more on the ’72 DNC convention, there are a few pages in Hunter Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72” that explain the Byzantine machinations that went on. IIRC, one of the factions had to keep losing votes in order to push the count out of a certain range — they had to win, or they had to lose big, in order to get what they wanted.

  3. I know that Jimmy Carter wasn’t a terribly successful president. But God, I love him. No the least because we’re both from Georgia.

  4. Me, too, on the Jimmy Carter hope thing. I missed that interview and am so glad to read about it.
    Can’t we get this over with?

  5. Dumb ol’ out-of-state money gave us the dumbest Senator in Congressional history, but at least you came home for D.C. so we could be friends. (There’s always a bright side.)
    Just to put that McGovern effect in perspective, in our elementary school’s mock election, the vote count was was three for McGovern and everyone else for Nixon, so your dad had a big hurdle to clear that year.

  6. When Obama was nominated by acclamation, I was so happy seeing all of those faces of color on the convention floor, many of them with tears streaming down. Made me feel like crying too.

  7. Electing a man president who has NO CLUE about the truly global world we live in, and who can not even use a computer is beyond frightening. If he gets elected simply because of his less threatening skin color, I am going to stand with my mouth agape for eternity.

  8. Hey, hopeful woman: got your “Knitters for Obama” button yet????
    zazzle.com. They come FAST, too! Upliftedly, Becky

  9. Jimmy Carter is the first president I remember & his daughter is my age with my name & hair color, so he made a huge impression on me. One of my college professors sais that history would prove Jimmy Carter to be one of the most successful presidents ever… I guess we’ll wait & see, but he has always been one of my favorites.

  10. I was so proud to cast my first presidential ballot for Jimmy Carter. I still have a lot of respect for him.

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