Wednesday, November 08, 2006

How It Feels

As a young voter, I've been trying to articulate to my friends and family just how it felt to win locally and nationally last night. Not just to feel victory in a race, but to feel like my hard work for the issues I believe in actually meant something. That I was actually part of change...

And then I found this on DailyKos, and it is much more eloquent than I can be:

The Newbie by Georgia10

Exhale. We won.

"We won." Truth be told, it's a concept that I have yet to fully register. You see, at 24 years old, such victories are completely foreign to me.

Millions of young Americans who grew up (politically) at the turn of the millennium are tasting their first victory today. We grew up in the aftermath of the Republican Revolution, not understanding what was so revolutionary about it. For us, a Republican Congress and Senate have basically been the status quo. We have no real memories of the pre-Gingrich political environment.

Often, I'll read or hear from those far wiser than me about their lifetime experiences. Anecdotes about Bobby Kennedy, tales of successful protest, and other memories borne out of a time when leaders led and common action produced tangible result. For years, I hungrily absorbed these stories, wishing that I was born in a different era where people still believed in the awesome power of the common citizen. Longing to experience government with a capital "G", an institution capable of remarkable social change.

I've grown up surrounded by disillusionment with that idea of government. I have vague memories of Clinton's impeachment, clearer memories of the 2000 election debacle, and an still-too-painful recollection of Kerry's loss. I've lived about one-fourth of my life under the presidency of George W. Bush. How's that for disillusionment?

As I matured, from a curious 18-year-old voter to a 24-year-old political junkie, my disillusionment grew. You know how it is. The outrages pile on day after day, and you feel like it's gotten to the point that there's no way this country can dig itself out of the rubble.

The darker it became, the more fervently I searched for light. A passionate speech here (Keith Olbermann), a TV smackdown there (Howard Dean). They have been sporadic twinklings of hope, but too far and few between to satisfy.

I'm used to losing, and I'm used to consolation prizes rendered in the form of moral victories and close calls.

But this--victory--is entirely foreign to me.

It's a strange feeling, one best described as a mix of ticklish heart and nervousness. I've moved on past disbelief to a sort of quiet contemplation on the length of the path before us. It's a long road towards real change, and my feet at slightly hesitant as we begin the walk. Perhaps those who have experienced victory before are more surefooted, steadied by the memories of previous Democratic majorities. We've been here before.

But here is not the here of the past. The path to implementing our agenda is booby-trapped by a right-wing intent on minimizing our majority status, and the media of today is not the media of past Democratic majorities.

So pardon the anxiousness of young voter who, in this Majority, feels like a citizen in a strange land. This crown of laurels feels a bit awkward on a head which has hung so low for so long.

I've never had victory open the floodgates of hope. I've never seen the stars so bright and shiny, or the path towards real change so well-lit. It's exhilarating. It's intimidating. It's brand new, and overdue.

To those celebrating their first victory today, and to those who have seen victory and taste it again tonight... congratulations. Our party has won, and our work has just begun.

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