God, were we lucky.
Last night, President Obama gave his farewell remarks in his hometown of Chicago. It was far more poignant than one could’ve anticipated, swelling us up with immense gratitude. And with 10 days until President Trump, it gave most of us the good cathartic cry we needed.
As someone who’s no stranger to an #imwithher hashtag, the past couple of months have been rough. Like most Hillary supporters, I’ve felt a strange confluence of emotions crescendo over the last few weeks, reaching critical mass as we walk the plank these next nine days. It may sound hyperbolic, but it’s felt something like the stages of grief. There certainly was anger and, of course, denial—the faint hope that the Electoral College would throw a Hail Mary. I’d passed bargaining and only recently arrived at a solemn, sad acceptance, kind of like the final scene of Toy Story 3, when the toys hold hands, accepting their fate to slowly march into the incinerator together.
And that collectiveness—that understanding that we’re all in this together—has been the only small semblance of comfort. Not to sound defeated, but it’s a sense of communal terror, really, that has reassured me that my values won’t be dismissed. There are too many of us horrified. But I realize it’s only collective in my myopic purview, in my 10-mile radius bubble. We all have our bubbles, as Obama so aptly addressed.
“Regardless of the station that we occupy, we all have to try harder,” he said. “We all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do…and that’s not easy to do. For too much of us, it’s become safer for us to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or on college campuses or places of worship or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions.”
I’m certainly guilty of that. Last night, my Instagram feed was all college-aged Barack black-and-white photos with captions thanking him for his service. And practically everyone I know was disappointed by the election results.
That said, it was President Obama’s urging for us to bridge the divide—speaking like the 2007 and 2008 Barack we all fell in love with—that really got to me last night. He acknowledged how striated we are but also emphasized our fundamental sameness in our inherent values as Americans—as protectors of civil liberties and foes of discrimination, oppression, and hate. There was as wave of oneness that swept over me as I watched. I even felt a small dose of the same exhilaration I felt when he first ran as he concluding his speech with “yes we can”.
And then, today happened. This tweet from Westworld actor Jeffrey Wright, randomly enough, put it quite well.
“Yesterday #Obamafarewell. Today, vomit.”