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MAMA LIKES

One More Love
posted by Amy

I've just come from my usual Monday morning ritual: working with some of the first-graders in my daughter's class. This is something I do out of complete selfishness, because I love these kids and the hope they give me each week as they so diligently struggle to learn to read and write and add and subtract.

These particular first-graders are lucky; despite varying degrees of readiness for school and vastly different family lives, they've got an amazing teacher who holds each one of them to the same high standards and makes it possible for each one of them to succeed.

Today, though, as I helped one six-year-old finish a letter to his pen pal in a neighboring class, I found myself near tears. On his paper he had written, "Are you going to vote for Obama? My whole family is."

If Barack Obama becomes president, this little boy's whole world will truly change. He sat today in a classroom filled with pictures of past presidents, since along with Black History Month and Valentine's Day and the 100th Day of School, February in elementary schools = Presidents' Day. Not one of those presidents looked a bit like him. I'd like to see something different next Presidents' Day. So would Michael Chabon.

Now, of course I could make a similar argument for voting for the other Democratic contender on the behalf of every little girl in that class. I could, in theory. But I can't in practice. I just can't, for all kinds of reasons.

My vote tomorrow will be about believing that we can be better than we are right now. It will be about remembering what Barack Obama writes in The Audacity of Hope, about being told that his name doomed him to failure as a politician in a post-9/11 America. He didn't believe the political consultants then, because he thought Americans were smarter than they were given credit for. He figured we might just be able to distinguish between Osama Bin Laden and Barack Obama. Turns out he's right about that so far.

That's the kind of leader I want: one who believes in the good in all of us, one who has faith in the country he's hoping to lead, and one who will make me proud, at long last, to be an American. I want a leader who, like the first-grade teacher my daughter is so lucky to have, pushes us to be the best we can be simply by believing it is possible.