Most marathon runners will tell you that, around mile 22 or 23, they hit a wall. They reach that point where they simply want to stop, both physically and mentally. It’s an overwhelming feeling and even the hardiest runners have trouble getting through it, no matter how prepared they are.
For the record, it’s going to be 21 months, all told, when this whole thing is over. And covering that, writing about it, postulating on it, freaking out about it, ranting about it and joking about it had worn me down like those marathon runners. I hit the wall and I mentally and physically could not go any further.
It turns out, though, that I have little bit left. I’m going to try and limp on for these last couple of miles and reach that finish line with you. Hopefully, you won’t take offense when I lose control of my bowels around mile 25.
And now, the actual column:
We all remember that moment in our lives where we realized that we no longer needed our mothers to cut the crusts off our PB & J, lay out our school clothes for us or ferry us around to whatever activities that we have around town. It’s that magic moment when you, at least in some part, become an adult. Maybe you get your first car or go down to the bank and open your first checking account, or maybe you just start closing the door to your room more often and make constant unrequited requests for your own phone line.
That moment, when you realized that you were your own person, that’s what this election is about.
For the first time in our lives, us Gen X and Gen Y kids are having a chance on a national scale to have someone represent us and our views and values. We don’t have to vote for someone from our parent’s generation to represent us and our interests in the highest office in the land. We have the choice to vote for Barack Obama, and that’s an important thing, no matter which party altar you knee at. The last time something like this happened was 1992 and the time before that was 1960, so it doesn’t come around too often. We need to grab this opportunity with both hands and hold on for dear life.
In 2000, we all thought that it would be funny to vote for Ralph Nader, just to say “fuck the man.” Bush appeared to be a harmless doofus and Gore was too boring to vote for. In 2004, we were lulled to a deep, deep coma by the ponderous rhetoric of John Kerry and we weren’t quite tired of making fun of that war-monger from Crawford just yet. The Daily Show was just hitting it’s stride and we were kind of enjoying Jon Stewart’s nightly skewering of Bush and his cronies. Besides, we were either still in college or just out of college, so the full effects of Bush’s awful policies had yet to hit home in full force.
But now, in 2008, we’re a bit older. We have mortgages and money in the stock market. We have 401(k)’s and car payments, credit card bills and maybe even a baby on the way. We’re thinking about our future in a more critical and serious way than we ever have before, because it’s coming faster and faster every day. We have a choice between an erratic hothead who used to be cool back in 2000, but showed his true colors by allowing everything he said he stood for to be compromised. Oh yeah, and he selected a bespectacled she-devil from the great white north as his VP. McCain doesn’t speak for us. He barely speaks for his own generation. How could he speak for us? How could he lead us into our future?
The choice for Barack Obama for our generation has nothing to do with political parties or ideologies. It has everything to do with the taking control of the country we are inheriting. We need a voice that speaks for us as a generation, that understands our hopes and fears and our desires for the future. We need someone with a steady, thoughtful hand to lead us into a future that we can help create for ourselves and our children.
Like it or not, Baby Boomers, your time is soon over. It’s our turn. You have to let go and let your children take over what will very soon be our country. We have to be allowed to do what is best for us, without any more hand-holding and interference from you. It’s time to abdicate the stranglehold that you have had on this country for the past generation. We’re ready to rise to the challenge. We’re ready to lead. We’re ready to grow up and become adults.