I personally feel a particular kinship with our president-elect, not because he has brown skin, or a searing intellect, but because he is a fellow writer. He is a member of the late night scribe club, because that is usually the only time that no one is calling your house, no one is watching TV, very few people are emailing you - a time when the hard thinking that you need to do to turn ideas into keystrokes can begin in earnest.
Barack Obama is man who understands words and how to use them, both as a writer of prose and a writer of speeches, each of which have different demands on a writer. He appears to have a fine appreciation for alliteration, onomatopoeia, and all those other obscure but relevant literary terms that give the majesty to the lyricism that can be found in almost all of his inspirational speeches.
In my mind, my work has its own identity, containing a certain level of inner tension, a certain amount of well articulated outrage that I attempt to harness as I do my part to shape the narrative that will come to define the Obama presidency. Which means that the love fest of the last week has left me a little flat when it comes to providing commentary on the political world as it relates to Barack Obama.
This probably mirrors, in a way, the thing that I imagine is going on across the country as Obama supporters slowly come down off of their high from November 4th – a certain amount of mental slackness that you get when you get through an intellectually and emotionally exhausting event, the same way you used to feel when you finished your college exams – totally drained and worn out.
Also, the enemy used to have a name. First it was Hillary Clinton. Then it was John McCain. Now, with the election behind him, Barack Obama has switched from fight against his political competitors to fighting for the entire country – a switch whose vast undertaking has diluted the potency of his efforts to the point where he seems to be sinking slowly down to the level of a mere mortal who is about to inhabit the White House.
His mission has changed. So has mine.
Success for Obama will not be defined any longer by the number of opponents he can put out of the race – now, it will be measured by the number of Americans he can keep in the game.
I don’t have a four hundred and fifty person transition team. There is no where near tweleve million dollars in my budget for anything, let alone a transition effort.
But what I do have in common with Barack Obama, in addition to being a fellow writer, is a commitment to the people in my community, the same way he has a made a commitment to America, to help us see the possibilities that are within our grasp, and to urge us to begin grasping.