“Seriously, are you not afraid that the election might to go to Romney? I’m afraid.” This is one of many text messages that vibrate my iPhone.
And, my response is always the same, “I am not afraid. I don’t feel that energy in my heart. President Obama will be re-elected.” In that same text exchange, my friend closes, “I am taking your words. Hope we are not disappointed…I will keep an optimistic view.” As our conversation ends, the only thing I am thinking is, “how can you not keep an optimistic view?” As much as I have heard the opponent’s name mentioned or seen it printed, he does not represent me and, for this reason, he cannot be my president.
I take my civic responsibility of voting seriously. I am so committed to understanding the political process that I decided to get a degree in Political Science from Virginia State University. Along my journey I have learned that casting a vote is like taking a vow. Circa 2004, I was introduced to then Senator Obama as I sat in Boston, Massachusetts listening to this young dynamic speaker. I turned to my friend and said to him, “This man is going to be the president of the United States!” He thought I was being ridiculous—that I was some giddy girl making a premature claim. about a handsome man. The truth, however, is that I connected with his vision for America.
On November 4th, 2008, I said “I do” to President Obama, and ever since, I have been committed to his accountability, doing my part to bring awareness to his policies by attending campaign stops, volunteering with the Democratic National Committee, attending the inauguration and Inaugural Ball hopping.
When the election of 2008 arrived everybody was abuzz about the history that had just been made by the election of President Obama. He won because millions of other Americans accepted the same proposal I accepted—the proposal of change, and we committed our vote to bringing it to fruition. People that had lived their entire lives to witness an African American in the White House, were overcome with emotion—their faces were saturated in tears and their hearts heavy with joy. It was at the swearing in, on that blistering cold day in January when I realized my proposal was no longer an engagement; for, I had now entered a marriage that I was ready to serve and defend. Today, I am not ready to abandon my marriage. And to divorce now, will cost everything.
The First Family inspires the best in men, women and children. Mr. and Mrs. Obama ignite the Hip Hop generation, young people in my high school classroom, youngsters standing on the corner trying to figure out their next moves, and parents juggling Parent Teacher Conferences and hectic work schedules. Middle class families feel important because they are now the subject of debate. And poverty finally has a platform, even if the word poverty rarely appears in most conversations. The fact that health care has been extended to families that have previously had to choose between paying their rent or healing an illness is a conversation that is heard every day. Poor communities hardest hit by natural disasters have not had to endure President Obama playing politics or placing the people’s safety behind his political endeavors or announcing that he would get rid of rescue and relief organizations like FEMA. For as long as I can remember, Big Bird has been a fixture in families of all classes and demographics– even he has fallen under the moniker “obsolete.” As a voter, President Obama appreciates me [and you] and his record reflects it, from the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and to the increase in the Federal Pell Grant (the maximum amount is $5,550 for 2011-2012 award year).
I am not ready to divorce the President.
During Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to get serious about working out. My cousin motivated me to run through Harlem’s historic Sugar Hill area. While jogging men silenced their cat-calls and complimented us, “y’all getting y’all Michelle Obama on.”
I am inspired every time I see Mrs. Obama’s svelte figure, strong arms and confidence. When she became the First Lady, she succinctly articulated her first and most important job is being “Sasha and Malia’s mom.” Every cause she has championed resonates the role she plays in her daughters’ lives as their mother; from tackling obesity to ensuring military families are well supported, she has been an advocate for improving lives.
I am not ready to divorce Mrs. Obama.
When I have a benchmark to meet in my weight loss endeavors, I look to Mrs. Obama. When I want to make a fashion statement, I channel Mrs. Obama by asking myself, “What would Mrs. Obama wear?” If ever I am conflicted about how to respond to a question, I stop to think about how both Mr. and Mrs. Obama would respond.
I am not ready to divorce this family.
On November 4th, 2008, we said “I do” to change in America. And, we have experienced change. We have a First Lady that has encouraged each of us to be our best through her Let’s Move Campaign, which also compliments Obama Care. The ability of people to see physicians, get regular check-ups, have access to prescription drugs that can quell some health problems and reduce the worst symptoms and conditions of others, and for children to be able to remain on their parents’ insurance are all reasons for each of us to renew our vow to the marriage of this administration. We cannot just walk away now—I have not even begun to feel the “seven-year itch!” Our children deserve a fighting chance to be in the best schools that our federal government can lead in producing. The Obama Administration’s Race to the Top initiative for better schools is worth every effort. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden are fighters for educational reform and the helpmates of this administration. Together they are moving America FORWARD!
I am not ready to divorce this team.
Groups like the “Tea Party” and “Birthers” have challenged the right to vote through voter suppression tactics and legislative challenges. The Republicans’ presidential contender is afforded a space to mislead and lie to the people with little or no consequence. Affirmative Action is challenged in states like Texas, women’s reproduction is discussed as a political issue rather than the personal issue it is, and the middle class is pummeled by outsourcing, union-busting and student-loan debt. Students are told they are entitled to the amount of education they can afford and they are now encouraged to borrow money from their cash-strapped parents to acquire a piece of the American Dream. Immigrant, undocumented students, have been denied access to improve the quality of their lives in America due to the Republicans’ refusal to pass the Dream Act (President Obama used the Executive Order to defer these students’ deportation). These issues are not infinitesimal; rather, they are colossal and will impact the lives of generations to come.
Regression is not the change I believe in, but for those Americans that have filed for divorce, backwards seem to be the only direction they are willing to go. Negatively-charged language burns from the Republican opponent, and I cannot imagine this language will woo anyone into commitment. Clearly there are takers; and, words like “repeal” and “no” are hardly words of compromise, the element that every successful marriage must have. For groups that formerly supported President Obama there is no compromise. The Des Moines Register has decided to divorce President Obama in four short years in favor of the Republican opponent and his party. Clearly their judgment is flawed as it was in its 1972 endorsement of Richard Nixon, the only President to ever resign from the presidency. What the Obama Administration has been able to put together at the bequest and needs of the people cannot be put asunder easily. I have entrusted this leadership and President Obama’s administration has delivered.
Divorce is not an option.
In these first four years, I have learned that the platform issues addressed by the Obama Administration places America on the best path to moving FORWARD! The economy / jobs, education, and healthcare are issues on which all people need an administration’s diligent attention. President Obama’s Administration has been steadfast in upholding its vow to us, but don’t have to take my word for it. Go directly to www.whitehouse.gov and look in the section called “An America Built to Last” for the transparency of the progress of this administration. As we confront the close of these first four years and move toward embracing another four years in just 7 short days, we must be diligent in the resolve that marriages require work! We are not a nation of quitters and we have to be more vigilant than the estranged and disgruntled groups who want out. When we commit we have everything to gain.
Each of us has the vow to uphold.
Zakiyyah Ali is a high school social studies teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Political Science and a Masters Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision, both from Virginia State University. She enjoys singing, dancing, politics, traveling and the development of our youth.