Yes We Can November 5, 2008


11-5-08 Compared to Verona, Sarnano is essentially apolitical as I have seen very little political activity since moving here four+ years ago. Yet when I walked into my macelleria on Wednesday morning, the butcher’s 24-year old son all but gave me a high five, spilling out a rush of excitement about the results of the election. Pietro, who works in the office below me, conveyed his enthusiasm for the change, voicing the Obama mantra in fractured English, “eeyesuh we canuh.” After a second, I responded with the Italian version, “sì, possiamo.” After eight years of arrogance, a tough export in any market, America has delivered a president the world can admire. “Only in America possible for change like what happened” enthused Pietro, “this not possible in Italy.” Personally, one of the changes for me will be not having to change channels on the TV whenever the President starts to talk, thus avoiding the embarrassment of listening to a fractured syntax almost as bad as Pietro’s in English or mine in Italian.

I will confess to tearing up watching Obama’s acceptance speech thinking, irrationally perhaps, that my fourteen years of teaching at racially diverse Berkeley High School for 14 years was somehow worth it. My fellow teachers and I sometimes referred to the Obamas we were privileged to teach as “hybrids” in the botanical sense of hybrid vigor. Bright as some of them were, none were close to the brilliance that is being shown by our future President. Obviously he will need superhuman skills and intelligence to deal with the myriad problems that will confront him on January 21.

Norman Rockwell died in 1978. The nostalgic world that he illustrated had already died at some point during the 60s. Since Reagan, the Republicans have been successfully running on a theme of returning to these seemingly simpler times. This world no longer exists. And would we really want to go back to a world where the “coloreds” are in the ghettos, the Mexicans in the fields, and the gays in the closet? I don’t think so. The world has changed. We need a leader who acknowledges, personifies, and embraces these changes.

Change? Yes we can. (back)