Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Do You Believe in Fairy Tales?

Last night I watched the Democratic National Convention in the most perfect way. I sat on the floor, my back resting against the couch and my laptop on a little stool in front of me, working on a new short story (first draft complete at 2700 words, unlike my puny little 750 word homework assignment that was due today).

I watched Ted Kennedy's speech, then, later, Michelle Obama's. I didn't stick around for the political commentary between or after, I just watched and listened to the speeches, then turned off the TV and kept writing.

I really liked Michelle Obama's suggestion that we vote our hopes this year, not our fears. That was beautiful.

And I think that Teddy Kennedy did a wonderful job. I saw his wife redirect him as he started to walk the wrong way to the podium, I saw his shaking hands, I saw the looks of concern and anxiety on the faces of his family.

But he gave a great speech, and my heart ached a little when he promised to be there in January to see Barack Obama inaugurated.

It reminded me of a few months ago when I was thinking about the Kennedy political legacy, and how here is this family that has so much money and history but is so focused on giving back, helping others. And the whole Camelot fairy tale, and about how we want so badly for it all to be real, for our political leaders to be perfect. For these rich, privileged people who are so dedicated public service, who have this large sense of the responsibility they bear to the rest of society, to be strong and perfect in all ways. To not have affairs, drive drunk, abuse alcohol and drugs, lie.

That night, months ago, I spent some time on Wikipedia, looking up JFK's family: his siblings and their children and grandchildren, searching for someone with that magical Kennedy name who had the right biography. Someone with the moral fortitude to stand comfortably in the extremely bright spotlight in which we bathe our politicians, but who also has the charisma to lead us, to inspire us to believe.

I don't believe in fairy tales, but I want to. And if I am faithful to my own husband, is it too much to expect that he's faithful to me? If I don't drive drunk, if I've never done drugs or abused alcohol, is it too much to expect others in my community to do the same? Is all this too much to ask that of our role models and public figures? And is it ever OK to expect a higher standard?

When they fall short of their promises and our hopes, we feel disillusioned. So I am afraid to believe in Barack Obama. But I want to believe that, yes, we can.


  1. Good commentary, Sarahlynn. But none of us is perfect and, as an old pope once said, saints are okay in heaven, but hell to deal with on earth.

    I like the fact that both Obama and McCain have failings. I feel I can trust them more. As for faith, I'll keep that in Jesus.

  2. I've been through too much to believe we can through one election or one man. But I don't feel disillusioned with public figures. I feel disillusioned with the public. I'm a downer this year!

  3. I hate when they lie. I really really hate it when they lie. But I'm with you on feeling more disillusioned with the public than the politicians.

    The politicians are the way they are because it works (the pandering, the grandstanding, the soundbites, the negative campaigning). And it works because we keep buying it.

    Of course the solution isn't to wait for one magical savior-politician who rises to the top despite it all . . . it's to create a system where the honest, hardworking, reasonable people who work well with others do prosper!

  4. As much as I want to believe in Obama... I feel that since I studied poli sci and I have seen politics being 'made' in so many countries.... I have the feeling that not everything that he promise will be made. I hope that I am wrong but I have seen other Obama's in the world (Sarkozy in France and Fox in Mexico). They promise the world but at the end, it is impossible.

  5. Yep, and that was my first worry about Obama: the he's too idealist, too hopeful about how much he could change (like HRC and Bill Clinton in 1993). But the past 4 years have been very educational for Obama, I believe. I don't believe in all anybody promises from the stump, including Obama, but I do believe that he has a good understanding of how to effect change and what's feasible.