Beyond November

Suzanne Pharr February 20th, 2008

This is the comment I wish I had posted yesterday—before Obama swept Wisconsin and Hawaii—because it is not about Obama or Hillary or Mac. It is about the people’s great roar for change and involvement in the political process. It’s about people moving from stunned and despairing to inspired and hopeful. It is about a window opening, about fresh air, about the spirit moving.

While I am moved by the drama of the individual candidates as I watch much too much cable news reporting, I am most keenly affected by the voters, their voices speaking everywhere, their feet eager to get to the polls. I can’t get enough of the interviews, of the analysis of exit polls, of the pundits looking foolish in their failed predictions.

It is one of those amazing moments in history when almost everyone is caught off guard. A year ago, who would have thought? Republicans saying they don’t want to rehash the Vietnam War. Young people, written off by so many people over 40, rushing to register to vote (550,000 on Rock the Votes web site alone), campaigning for candidates, and getting their friends and families to vote. Ardent feminists, thought to be sealed along gender lines, voting for a black man. Religious conservatives threatening not to vote at all. Who among us could have predicted this?

And no one is caught more out of step than progressive people. Here is what looks like a sea change of thinking (and desire), and I cannot think of many individuals or groups that are prepared to work with the moment.

My question is this: who will cradle and nourish this hope and activism after the election? Certainly, no President can fulfill that hope in an immediate way. There’s sure to be disappointment, maybe disillusionment—unless there are collective ways for people to get involved in the process of making change.

That’s the local and national discussion I would like to be part of: what happens after November? What is our best thinking for catching and moving with this moment of change? It is time for expanding vision, for responding to longing and desire, for moving to our best selves and claiming a new day.

3 Responses to “Beyond November”

  1. FinanceBuzzon 25 Feb 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Change is nothing more than a buzzword. Almost all the candidates are promising change. Obama is incredibly eloquent, but when he makes a speech is says little more than nebulous, feel-good messages. The reality is that he is not really any different than liberal politicians in previous elections. A review of his positions on his web page shows this. More government solutions, less economic freedom, more class warfare, etc. His liberal rhetoric is simply updated for the contemporary issues of 2008. How is this change? It is not a change from Democrats of the past. It may be a slight change from President’s Bush’s policies but not for the better. That is unless you like higher taxes, more government infringement into your daily life. and the specter of destroying our healthcare system via socialized medicine. As for young people’s enthusiasm, I cannot share your excitement. This is the generation who seems to know more about the American Idol candidates than the presidential candidates. Their young idealism makes perfect candidates to have their naivete of the political process preyed upon by slickly packages candidates like Obama, though they are not mature enough and have not spend enough time dealing with economic realities to recognize the damaging policies of such a candidate.

    Yes. Obama is about change, but what little change he offers, is change we do not need.

  2. Miriam Yeungon 07 Mar 2008 at 11:04 am

    I’m not so sure FinanceBuzz. Read Suzanne’s post on desire and hope!

  3. Kristinon 24 Apr 2008 at 7:43 pm


    I’m stumbling across your blog after meeting you so many years ago in Portland, Oregon. I was a somewhat adrift political activist and now a much more grounded activist and mother of two. I have a small, very new blog with a friend of mine called Poligot (i.e, you got politics? I also blog at I’ve been thinking thoughts very similar to the ones you wrote in this piece — would you consider a cross-post?

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