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.