Election hangover

by admin on November 7, 2008

This entry is going to be dreadfully off-topic, but there’s nothing I can do about it…

Tuesday was my fiftieth birthday, and it was a day that went down in history. Not, of course, because of my birthday. As some of you may have heard, we had an election in the U.S. and the good guys won.

As I watched the election coverage on Tuesday night, I was especially moved by the joy and tears of the crowd in Chicago, which seemed to me completely different from the usual joy that you see from the supporters of the winning side. It helped me understand something about this election that I had not quite gotten before. It was very interesting how the political experts, after denying that race was an issue, nevertheless talked most of the evening about race. I think that they missed the point, too.

This election wasn’t about race, it was about redemption. In so many ways.

Over the past few days I’ve worked on a poem that tries to express what I saw in the faces of those people who listened to Barack Obama speak in Grant Park. Of course I’m not any kind of poet, but I’ve had a melody in my head for years that was waiting for words, and these seemed to be the words that fit.

What Martin Said

I’ve been thinking about what Martin said,
And how in the desert he found an oasis,
And never could I forget
What he told us so many years ago …

Thinking about what Martin said,
And I’ve been in the desert long enough that I know.

He said: I’ve been to the mountaintop,
Spoken with the angels and looked out in the distance
And I saw the Promised Land
And I asked them, “Can we get there?” “Yes we can!”

I’ve been to the mountaintop,
I’ve seen the angels, and they told me that we can.

Now that forty years have come and gone,
We don’t have a preacher, but we have a leader,
Who showed us a hidden road
Even though we did not know where it goes …

Forty years have come and gone,
We found a leader who showed us the hidden road.

We’ve been traveling the pilgrim’s path,
We started as hundreds but swelled into millions
And no matter where we went
On this road, on this steep redemption road …

Traveling the pilgrim’s path,
But one set of footsteps has always been there before.

Now we’ve come around the final bend,
And shining in the distance, we’ve seen the mountain,
And never again can doubt
What he told us so many years ago …

Come around the final bend,
Come see the mountain, remember what Martin said.

He said: I’ve been to the mountaintop,
Spoken with the millions who stood there assembled,
And I saw the Promised Land
And I asked them, “Can we get there?” “Yes we can!”

I’ve been to the mountaintop,
I’ve seen the millions, and they told me that we can.

Dana Mackenzie

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve in TN November 7, 2008 at 8:26 pm

I fully intend to extend the same measure of loyalty and respect to your President that Democrats have shown to my President.

Take time to think about that during the celebration…


Chessperado November 7, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Hi Dana, Juande and Rebecca here. Just wanted to say “Happy Birthday” and that we share your sentiments regarding the election results. It truly does feel like a new day. Oh, and nice lyrics!


Rob November 8, 2008 at 6:13 am

Hello Dana…

Obviously your words are heartfelt.

For the first time since I arrived in France
the optimism amongst my french friends and family is palpable with the election of Mr. Obama.

I am not sure what “Steve in Tn” means by his statement about extending the same measure of etc., etc., ” to “your president”. But as I recall “Tn” = Tennessee and as the 16th state to be admitted to the union of states which makes up the United States, the elected president represents the interests of all the states and all of its citizens ,(like marriage) for better or worse.

The sitting president has done great damage to the esteem and reputation of the United States in europe and other parts ot the world. And so far it has been amazing to see the joy and hope inspired by the election of Mr. Obama here.

For the record, I did not vote for Mr. Bush, nor did I vote for Mr. Obama. But as an american who has chosen to live in another country, he will soon be the president of the country, and for all americans, should they live in France, Tennessee, or even Santa Cruz, CA..

One side note: a number of people have remarked to me, on their hope that Mr. Obama will remain safe during his presidency. I guess these comments are remarks made after observing how leaders of great and potential change are often viewed as threats in the U.S., and therefore need to be removed to maintain the status quo…

Anyway…a belated Happy 50th to you Dana…may you live a hundred years, may you drink a hundred beers…



Henry November 10, 2008 at 6:13 am

I have been reading your blogs and listening to your lectures and I am surprised by your comment.
I am a Republican and I never thought of myself as a “bad guy” and rest assured that McCain is far removed from that. It’s your blog and you are entitled to your opinions. For some one of your intelligence to come across as so asinine is astounding. I will keep on reading your blog and listening to your lectures because both are funny and insightful but my opinion of you as taken a hit.


Andres D. Hortillosa November 10, 2008 at 8:06 am

Congratulations on your 50th birthday anniversary!



admin November 10, 2008 at 8:45 am

Thanks, all, for your comments and your birthday wishes. To Henry, the one part of my post that I did have some misgivings about was the “good guys won” comment, because of course it’s a huge oversimplification. In politics especially, there are no completely good guys or completely bad guys, and I certainly don’t think McCain is a bad guy.

To everyone reading this blog, you need not worry that it will turn into a political blog. I will continue to keep off-topic posts to a minimum. But it *is* a blog, and that does mean personal opinions are allowed and encouraged, both from me and from you. Rants are allowed, celebrations too.

To my relief, no one has come right out and said yet, “You are a crappy poet.” That’s what I was really afraid of! 😎


thadeusfrei November 11, 2008 at 1:07 pm

congrats on your birthday, Im also happy the democrats won the house of representatives.


Ernest Hong November 15, 2008 at 11:42 pm

A belated happy birthday to you. It’s good to see you stretching your literary muscles into poetry. I liked it, but I’m a little leery about messiah because some opponents have turned them around into antichrist references. I simply hope Obama does a creditable job.

In a completely different direction, one of the mornings as I was driving to the Western States Open, I was behind a car with Virginia plates that had the slogan “Keep Santa Cruz Weird”. This must be a point of pride with the city?


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