I'm elated by all of this, I really am. Against all logic, the worst President in the history of the United States has left his post, peacefully. That's not all. He was replaced by a historic candidate, a competent candidate, a smart, compassionate, rational, and genuinely honest candidate. I wasn't expecting that. I would have been happy with a run of the mill Democrat if it got rid of the Great Devil Bush. We didn't get a regular old Dem, though, we got a man I trust, one who I respect. So why do I feel so conflicted?
My American identity is strange and confused, owing mostly to the fact that I've never lived in the United States. I've got citizenship, through my mother, but I've lived the 28 years of my life in Toronto, and nearby St. Catharines Ontario. So I've had proximity, family history, and certainly frequent travel to help reinforce the part of me that is American, and I've always taken a keen interest in the history and politics of my southern neighbour.
For the last eight years, though, my identity has grown through a very specific prism, one that has perversely drawn me much closer to the country of my mother. Ever since it became clear that Al Gore had won the election in 2000, my attention and ire (like many of you, I'm sure) focussed with intensity upon the man I saw as the usurper, and his evil Uncle Dickie. As his crimes became more egregious, I became more cynical, and far more obsessed. As someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I am very susceptible to obsessive thought patterns. The Bush administration has been my major focus for nearly a third of my life, and now he's gone.
I found Dailykos during my darkest period, just before the 2004 election. At the time, I was already spending the better part of my day sitting catatonic in front of the computer, trying, I guess, to find some sort of external reason for my very private pain. I had dropped out of University, broken up with my fiance, and moved into my parents basement where I sat, unemployed, for almost eight months. My obsession with the morass that American politics had descended into wasn't healthy, by any standards, but it gave me a feeling of power. So many people seemed not to see what was written clearly in front of them, so I catalogued what I could, and designated myself at the very least, a witness. We had already found about about the torture programs, and the warantless wiretapping. We knew that the administration had lied to start a war, that they had paid for the production of discreet government propaghanda. Many of you were here with me, so I don't need to go further into our collective history. It was one of the great conspiracies in American history, and it was all public knowledge.
Eventually I came out of the hole I'd buried myself in, and now America itself may be pulling its own head above the ground. I can't help but realize that for me, it may be Bush that was the transformative president. His malevolence changed me, empowered me in a way, taught me to use all of the information available to me to define an informed moral stance. I've been strengthened under what I feel is the evil of this last administration, in a way that I'm not fully comfortable with.
The fact the Barack Obama is now president, a man I trust and respect, makes this all much easier. He's asking for involvement, service, sacrifice, so maybe as I lose such a large part of my identity, I can rebuild myself as someone who exists not simply to watch and protest, but to support, to build.
Former President George W. Bush, after eight years of watching mutely as you and your friends systematically destroyed your own government, I'm not sad to see you go. Years from now, though, when against all odds you are forced to recognize the tragic, catastrophic failure you've represented to the world, I hope you find some solace in the fact that I, and millions of others like me, will hold you in our hearts and minds forever. I will never forget you.