2000 was one of those. I sat in a chair in my college dorm room, filling out an absentee ballot to vote in my first presidential election. A milestone. I’ll never forget it, even if I ultimately have come to regret my choice in that particular race.
2008 was another. I stood in the voting booth, and I paused. I knew whom I would choose. I’d followed the race closely, and I could feel a palpable weight of historic significance. I paused to take in the moment – the electronic square colored blue, next to the name of an African-American candidate. I was proud that day to have voted for Barack Hussein Obama. I still am.
Why did I vote for Obama in 2008? I’d be lying if I pretended emotion didn’t enter into it. Obama was an inspirational candidate, whose words had moved me to tears multiple times that campaign. I was one of many reporters who had covered the Democratic National Convention for the Rocky Mountain News that year, and a highlight was sitting in a Hard Rock Cafe with two colleagues, watching Obama make history by becoming the first black man to accept a major party’s nomination for president. It gave me goosebumps to be there, in the same city, at the same event. I can’t pretend that moment was not formative.
Of course, the policies were important, too. Obama promised a more just society, one in which we did not launch preemptive wars; did not torture suspected criminals, no matter how egregious the alleged crimes; and provided affordable health care to all, among other proposals. In short, although I would not have phrased it this way at the time, I believed Barack Obama would make this a better, more compassionate place to live.
So here we are, four years later. Much has changed in that time.