In 2002, I fell in love with a politician. With his personality, with his politics, with his charisma. His name was Josiah Bartlet. The West Wing changed me forever. I went from being an apathetic who called herself a Republican to what some would call a flaming liberal.
Josiah Bartlet made me want a President who did what he thought was right, not just what he thought would score political points. He made me want a President who really was the smartest person in the room and wasn't afraid to speak to Americans as if they had real brains. He made me want a President who had everyone's interest in mind, not just the interest of those who donated enough money for him to care.
It wasn't just Josiah Bartlet I fell in love with. Sam Seaborn made me want a President who wasn't afraid to be idealistic, even if he knew we might never meet that ideal. Toby Zeigler made me want a President who wasn't afraid to speak the truth, even when people don't want to hear it. Josh Lyman made me want a President whose passion for the position made him strive to always do his best. CJ Cregg made me want a President who truly cared about people not just bills and motions.
In 2006, I started hearing rumblings on the internet about a guy named Barack Obama. I heard that he gave a great speech at the DNC that I should listen to. And so I did.
Its hokey, but I fell in love with Barack Obama just a little when I heard that speech from the 2004 DNC. At the time, Obama was the Senator from Illinois, but the rumblings had started that he might run for President.
So I started keeping an eye out for Obama on the web. I was thrilled when he announced he would run. I would watch his speeches, read articles about him, and even signed up for his campaign's email list.
Slowly, my passion for his movement deepened. During the Bush administration, I'd never gotten the impression that George W cared anything at all about me. I'm not saying that he's a bad person, but the man has lived something of a charmed life. I never felt like he was in touch with the reality of every day life. I never felt like he was a guy I could talk to if I met him, a guy who would understand or care about my issues.
I felt like Barack Obama understood the average American. He cared about the issues facing the working class. If I met him on the street, I felt like I could have had a conversation with him and he'd really listen to what I had to say.
Obama's campaign reached out to my generation in a way no other candidate ever has. I could watch his speeches online. I got frequent emails detailing his feelings on issues and what he planned to do about different problems facing this country. There were so many opportunities for his supporters to give their input, to give their opinions, to feel like they mattered.
And so I went on my own little campaign trail. I talked to my friends about Obama. I talked to my family, even my coworkers.
My coworkers thought I was a little crazy. Someone my age passionate about Presidential candidate? Surely, I was just going through a phase. They laughed at my Obama wallpaper, my Obama hoodie and my willingness to passionately debate the issues. But eventually, I think they got it. This guy inspired me.
I was ecstatic when Obama won the Democratic nomination, but when he won the election, I'm not sure that it really sunk in that all I had hoped for was coming through. I don't think it really sank in til today. Sure, I calmly watched while he was sworn in and gave his speech and I was excited, but not really emotional. I was at work, after all.
Then I came home and turned on the tv. My TiVo had taped a whole The West Wing marathon, so I flopped down on the couch and started watching. It was a series of episodes depicting the election of a Hispanic President, Matt Santos, and the death of the beloved character of Leo McGarry, Chief of Staff to President Bartlet.
Soon, I was sobbing. It finally came crashing down that Barack Obama was really President. He did it. We did it. I finally have a President who I can love as much as I love Jed Bartlet. And I finally have a President who I feel cares about me and what happens to everyday Americans.
Welcome President Obama. We need you.