Goosebumps and Chills

Ever since last week’s election, I have been in a perpetual state of goosebumps and chills of excitement, and I know I’m not alone.

“Is this real? Could it really be true? We’re not dreaming, are we?”…we keep asking ourselves and each other. A president to be proud of….what a novel idea…and what a wonderful feeling to have.

I know I’m not alone because people I see everywhere have changed–or am I the only one who’s changed? No, I think we all have–at least the ones among us who are awake and aware.

It is wonderful to know that I can finally cancel the extra accident insurance I had taken out when it appeared inevitable that I was going to break one or more limbs, if not my neck, as I repeatedly dove for mute button on the remote each time any president of the past 16 years came on TV. I just couldn’t stand to listen to even their voices, dripping as they were with insincerity and false bravado, and often laced with equal amounts of arrogance and ignorance. But now, all that has changed.

Now I can’t wait to hear what President-elect Obama has to say…I choose news over anything else on TV or radio. I’m even back to reading newspapers and Newsweek–and I would be reading TIME too, but haven’t been able to find a new issue in the last two weeks–since before the election. (Did they fold too, or have they just sold out the post-election issue?)

All of the endless NPR interviews and discussions on how he did it…I still have not tired of hearing yet one more person’s observations and theories. Yesterday I heard one of the best so far, that of Ryan Lizza, the author of a current New Yorker article called Battle Plans. (There’s another magazine I have to go hunt down.)

The bottom line, according to Lizza, was that in the end Obama won because throughout the campaign he remained true to himself and did not allow who he was be swayed or influenced by what others, or the campaign itself, said he should be–changing his image for whatever group he was addressing, or just to cater to the whims of the latest polls.

Lizza reports that he was told by Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod that early on in the campaign, Obama told him, “I’m in this to win, I want to win, and I think we will win. But I’m also going to emerge intact. I’m going to be Barack Obama and not some parody.” And so he did, and so he was–and is. That’s how he won and why he won–and why I can’t wait to hear what he has to say next.

The man has principles, and he keeps his own counsel. To restore his energy, he did not rely on the masses who thronged to hear him speak, especially late in the campaign. He retreated solo, into himself, to keep his batteries charged and engine running. Maybe that resonates because that is the best way for me to keep myself sane too.

Somewhere I read, and I’m trying to find it again so I can say exactly where, that one of Obama’s advisors asked him way back at the beginning, before the campaign actually got underway, about his motivation to run for President–mostly because this advisor knew that Obama did not have that overwhelming obsession to “Become President At All Costs” that has kept most (all, until now?) successful presidential candidates going, no matter what. This advisor was concerned that without that all-consuming raging desire and ambition, Obama might lose his passion as the campaign battles waged on and on and on…

Obama said his motivation was just as strong as those driven by the lust for personal power and glory (my words, not his), but not because he needed the power of being president to complete himself, but because he knew he could make a difference. That’s the man I want as my President–and now, miracle of miracles, I have.

I love the multi-part Newsweek Special Report, How He Did It: The Inside Story of Campaign 2008–so many insights to the behind-the-scenes of all the three main campaigns–Obama’s, Clinton’s, and McCain’s. I have never claimed to be interested in politics, per se–in fact, I’ve habitually said I couldn’t care less for the subject. But there is something about this Presidential campaign, and the personalities involved–admittedly, Obama being the most compelling by far–that has me hooked still, a week after the campaigns have ended, and I just can’t get enough. I must admit, had the outcome been other than what it was, I would have lost interest instantly. But for once, the right guy won. And he is hugely compelling.

Barack Obama represents so much hope on so many levels and in so many arenas. All world and national issues aside, he is a role model of a man like I’ve never seen before–a solid rock of stability amidst a swirling sea of non-stop chaos. His is a quiet self-confidence that has no need for self-idolatry or adulation. A man who reacts similarly to extreme highs and lows, and so never swaying too far off center; a zen master comes to mind. He is who I would strive to be on a personal level…and seeing this, on top of everything else he represents, the goosebumps and the chills just keep on coming.

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