(Vol. 2, No. 3)
Bradley David Williams
“Hi from Eureka Springs, Arkansas -- the funkiest little town in America and perhaps the entire world.”
December 7, 2008
Happy Holidays!! And we have a LOT to be happy about, kids. In fact, I’ve been going around telling people that this is one of the happiest times of my entire life. Barack Obama’s stunning triumph has given me such hope and made me so proud of my country. I wasn’t sure we had it in us. One of my main justifications for supporting Hillary early on was that I truly didn’t feel that Barack Obama was electable. Last fall on my crazy 19-states-in-23-days road trip, I was a guest on my friend Stephanie Fraser’s radio show in Vermont (you can listen to the 10-15-07 interview online at www.personalandpolitical.net), and I went on and on about how I didn’t think this racist country would elect a black president, especially one with a first name that rhymes with Iraq, followed by the middle name of Hussein, then a last name that sounds like Osama. In this post-9/11 world, I thought Obama’s name alone would prevent him from being elected. I have never been so glad to be wrong. It was such a gift from Baby Jesus that we had the economic collapse during the election, which focused the media and the electorate on our pocketbooks rather than making the election an ugly referendum on “Are you gonna vote for THE BLACK GUY?” In this age of dumbed-down, sensationalist media coverage, it would have been so easy for the election to have devolved into endless man-on-the-street interviews asking the absurd question -- “Do you believe Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim?“ I’m a Born-Again Atheist myself, but I loved Colin Powell for posing the question, “So what if he WERE a Muslim?“
I told everybody I saw on Election Day, “This is one of the happiest days of my life.” For everybody who has ever felt marginalized in this country and for all the folks who have fought for progressive causes like gay rights and women’s rights and the environment and world peace and ending racism and classism and all the other -isms, November 4th was an astounding victory. So, too, was it a crushing defeat for all the bigots and small-minded conservatives and religious nutcases in the land, and that alone is reason for jubilation.
I did lose a lifelong friend because of this election. Ever since my twentieth high school reunion a few years ago (Class of ’86 -- Woo-Hoo!!!), I have been on the email list of one of my classmates -- I’ll call her Lucille -- and in the months leading up to the election, I was bombarded with daily anti-Obama emails from Lucille, some of them blatantly racist, almost all of them quite offensive to me. I held my tongue day after day, and I wanted to keep receiving the emails just to know what kind of garbage was out there on the Internet about Obama. The straw that broke the camel’s back was an email that I awoke to exactly one week before Election Day -- a “Letter From A Black Christian” on why he could not support Obama. Of course it was some religious wack-job who, in his letter, felt compelled to outline the five gruesome steps of the partial birth abortion procedure. Changing the subject at one point, the man wrote, “There is a REASON the homosexual community is supporting Barack Obama.” Yeah, it’s called EQUALITY. Well, this sent me over the edge. I wrote a pointed email response, which I thought was going out to the whole email list, but it turned out that my entire exchange with Lucille was just between us. Lucille’s hostile email reply caused me to pick up the phone and give her a ringy-ding at her place of work. With a few choice words, I called Lucille out on her hypocrisy, which I can’t go into without violating her privacy more than would be ethical. Let’s just say I threw a devastating blow Lucille’s way, ending this lifelong friendship, whatever was left of it, with a major flourish. It felt so liberating. As I wrote to Lucille, John McCain and Sarah Palin couldn’t say anything that might be perceived as blatantly racist, but every time they talked about Obama “pal-ing around with terrorists” and called him “anti-American” and “unpatriotic” and implied he might be a “Marxist” or a “socialist” or a “communist” or a “community organizer” -- all of that was designed to play on the small-mindedness and bigotry of a lot of people in this country. If anything had happened to Obama during the campaign, there would have been blood on the hands of John McCain and Sarah Palin for the dangerous words they used day after day in inciting their supporters. But somehow, America mobilized behind this remarkable man and said NO to the divisive, “God-fearing,“ anti-intellectual, “Family Values,” race-baiting, gay-baiting politics that we have come to know from Karl Rove and the Republican Party, which we have seen crumble before our very eyes. This is a HUGE moment for our country and for the world. Obama’s victory has inspired me to be my best self and dream big and strive for greatness.
All of this will constitute one of the central essays in the book I am working on -- what Obama means to me and to the world, my adventures at the Democratic Convention (SEE my last blog -- Vol. 2, No. 2), and the exhilarating demise of the lifelong friendship. Oh, and about the thrill of getting a fabulous email from Arianna Huffington herself on Election Eve, thanking me for the print-out I had sent her of my Denver blog. My self-imposed deadline for finishing this memoir is April Fool’s Day. I want a 2009 release date, hopefully launching the long-awaited fame and fortune that people have always predicted for me. I have NEVER had a beard or mustache (or been attracted to them, for that matter), but I decided two months ago to stop shaving until I finish the book. I may have a long, unruly Ozark beard before all is said and done. Whatever success the book achieves, I’m just happy to finally make creative use of all the rich material I’ve been collecting throughout my crazy life.
We’ve already had our first snowfall here in Eureka Springs, and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Enjoy this moment, and embrace the spirit of hope that 2009 promises!