The Who was born 23 days after we elected Barack Obama into office and I remember how excited and delighted I was to bring a baby into a society I was proud of. I felt proud. I did. I felt this enormous spirit of togetherness and trust and a common desire for something good. That’s the kind of place where I wanted to raise my kid.
The novelty of having a president that I could actually support and get behind didn’t wear off. I loved that my kid was going to be able to say, for the rest of his life, that he was an “Obama Baby.” I didn’t even know what this president would do. I didn’t know then that he would pass universal health care reform, pass the stimulus, pass Wall Street reform, end the war in Iraq, repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, pass “The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” pass the Hate Crime bill, come out in support of gay marriage, or any of the other praise-worthy things he has done in the past four years. All I knew was that my people were going to have an ally in office. (And by “my people” I guess I mean gays and women, but I also mean anyone who is an ally to gays and women, too. Because, frankly — and I know this is not a friend-making statement — supporters of Bush (and now Romney and Ryan) are not allies to gays and women.)
And then, y’know, I got complacent. Because Obama was in office for years and I was occupied with bringing up my kid. Working hard on doing my job and trusting that the president was doing his. But, now it’s election season again and I’m scared. I’m scared that now instead of raising my baby in a peaceful, hopeful place, I’ll be raising my preschooler in a hateful, despicable place. A place where women don’t have the right to choose and his moms don’t have the right to marry. A place where richness and whiteness and smugness rule — just the opposite of the place I was hoping for.
Politics has always meant a lot to me. As Representative Ed Markey said last night, “In Massachusetts (where I spent my first 30 years), you are born a voter and a Red Sox fan.” I proudly voted for Bill Clinton in my first election, just after I turned 18 in 1992 and I have never missed an election since, no matter how small. But there’s something about having a kid that really ups the ante. There’s so much more at stake now. It’s no longer just about me and my family and friends and neighbors and our rights, but it’s about the kind of worldview that my child is going to grow up with.
I hope we get at least four more years.