Well damn, after 8 years the day is here. I know I am not the first to express my sorrow in seeing a good president leave office. I may be one of the last in my circle of friends to express it online. I am sad to see the end of a presidency that, through faults and successes, exemplified grace. However, a sorrowful rant on the end of a good presidency to the transition to a potentially disastrous one is not my focus here. I have been thinking about the way a populace such as ours elects a leader. I was comforted in the now defunct fact that experience in government gave one an upper hand at persuading more votes. Now I can see that we do not pick experienced leaders, we choose the hottest brand.
Make no mistake, the Shepard Fairey “Hope” poster was not an Obama poster as much as it was a brand. It is not surprising that Fairey chose to change up his poster design for the next four years to reflect different faces of an electorate whose voices may not be entirely greeted with open arms in the coming years. It is sad that this realization, illustrated simply in the change of a poster design, came about 4 to 6 years too late. I don’t know about you but instead of choosing an icon for president, the next time around, I’m ready to choose someone as boring as a prime minister. Icons, brands, strongmen, and even political geniuses are held up to a standard that lets everyone else off the hook. Now I’m not being dismissive here, because I know there are a great number of people working their asses off to make this nation more accepting and more progressive. I just want to point out the dangers of putting full faith into any one person, like we do every four years, to heal all that ails the country. We’re better than that…in fact we have been for quite some time.
I took this picture on a temperate night in November 2008 when I was witness to history actually taking place all around me. We had just elected the first African American president ever and I could not have been more proud. I’m still proud of that moment but now for slightly different reasons. The crowd in the photo is what make me hopeful. The poster Fairey designed is what makes me hopeful. The progressive organizations filling my inbox, the artists working night after day, those coming to this country working three to four jobs to support families in other countries, ex-pats working every day in other countries, and everyone vying to stop intolerance in its tracks – you all make me proud to be living in this country. There is a lot of work to be done and 2018, yes 2018, is just around the corner.