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The Slumbering Giant has Finally Awakened

Barack Obama has awakened sleeping lions in unvanquishable numbers.
Photo by Luke Thomas

By Jill Chapin

January 9, 2008

That would be us. Up til now, a growing number of Americans from sea to shining sea has been rendered nearly paralyzed concerning our precipitous decline in our power and prestige throughout the world. Seemingly comatose in our heretofore collective apathy, we are now shaking ourselves awake with a growing sense of empowerment as we vision one more dawning chance at salvaging what is left of our perceived dubious future.

We are finally rousing ourselves from our self-induced stupor to get a glimmer of what it might feel like to actually believe again. For too long, we have been sedated in the misguided assumption that if we just go on about our daily lives of studied non-involvement, those more experienced will fix everything.

No more. After seven years of watching our country devolve from a respected superpower, we are engulfed in our diminishing reputation as the flagship for freedom.

That must be why Obama Mania is catching hold in the early primaries. It isn’t so much that he’s winning, it is how he is galvanizing a critical mass of former fence sitters and non voters to get up off of our couches and run to our nearest polling booth, making one final Hail Mary stab at pulling ourselves back from the brink of unspeakable disaster that we sense is hanging over our heads.

People seem desperate for a kind of rhetoric that will resonate around the globe. Weary of our president’s inability to speak coherently, let alone eloquently, we hunger for measured, intelligent, uplifting and inspiring words that have the added benefit of seeming heartfelt and genuine by the speaker. Skeptics would counter that terrible despots had this same kind of charisma over their people that led to madness. But term limits and impeachment roadblocks prevent oppressors from holding onto power here, thus diluting the cries of those who fear this kind of unchecked adulation..

If you scoff at those who are swept away by Senator Obama’s soaring words, think again. We all know at an elementary level how encouraging words can propel our children to try harder. It is astonishingly true that what we learned in kindergarten applies in our adulthood as well, and those who think this is naive are themselves more naive than they realize.

Seasoned pundits need to acknowledge a new emerging political reality. Trapped between a dread of the past and a last ditch hope for our uncertain future, we not only don’t care about experience, we are wiser than we are given credit for not being overly impressed with it. Just look at the years of experienced advisors surrounding our president. If that isn’t a call for novice leadership, then nothing could convince us to trust that a President Obama will surround himself with experts who will be encouraged to speak the truth, and a president who will actually value their advice.

With every election, it all revolves around trust. Most of the time, it’s all empty promises. This time, we are audacious enough to hope that some of it is genuine. This audacity is what caused New Hampshire to worry that they might run out of ballots.

No matter what the candidates say they want to do, or what they believe in, or what their records are, it all comes down to the goosebump factor. Senator Obama, despite his support for the Dream Act, had me at hello.

As Clint Eastwood once said, "Do you feel lucky?" Apparently more and more Americans by the hour are throwing their support behind this lucky-appearing longshot.

This sudden groundswell of support uncovers what Americans are thinking as they awaken from their long slumber –– that we are smack dab in the urgency of now.

'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.

- Percy Bysshe Shelley





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