If I had to summarize the 2008 Presidential Election, I would say it came down to the politics of fear versus the politics of hope.  Since 9/11, conservative Republicans have been engaging in the politics of fear and it has been alarmingly effective.  After al Qaeda struck the first blow to the American heart, it was the Bush Administration that made this fear an integral part of the American psyche.  As a result, with every passing year, we were losing increasing amounts of faith in humanity, in each other, and in ourselves.

Yet America was birthed by hope with her first settlers.  It was hope that compelled them to cross the oceans and settle thousands of miles of land to create a world that was not necessarily better for themselves, but could, potentially, be better for their children.  In voting booths around the country, many of us knew that neither McCain nor Palin could offer us that same hope now–even in the midst of an economic crisis.  McCain may be a war hero and Palin may be a hockey mom, but Obama and Biden were the true vessels of this uniquely American spirit.

What we have witnessed tonight is evidence that the Obama/Biden ticket has resurrected the hope that I suspect most of us forget we had.  Moreover, living in fear is not a state of being that needs to be “reformed,” it is a crippling condition that needs to be “changed.”  Senator Obama recognized that.  Senator Obama knew that what we needed was to regain OUR HOPE that tomorrow could actually be better than today.

As much as McCain tried to recapture his mystique as the “maverick” of DC, his near blind allegiance to one of the most unpopular presidents in American history over the past two years was apparently not forgotten by a nation of voters who finally realized that the cost of governance based upon fear outweighed its purported benefits.  The last eight years have taught us that we are not a country that can thrive under a shroud of constant fear or in a state of perpetual warfare.  Instead, ours is a country where hope is as essential as oxygen for our continued existence–without it, we falter, collectively and individually.

I watched the election results roll out, state by state, wondering if the politics of hope would prevail.  While fear is universal, there is a certain kind of hope/faith/optimism that is specific to the American spirit; it runs deeper than our fears.  So in essence, Obama’s “change” for America was really an “awakening” for America–a call for Americans to remember how far we can go and how much good we can do (for each other, for our country, and for our world), when we reclaim the hope that has inspired and defined us as a nation for hundreds of years.

Given my choice between a return to hope or further subjugation to fear, I chose the former.  And I thank God that a majority of American voters did as well.

Carissa Picard is a freelance writer, attorney, veterans and military families advocate, mother of two, and Blue Star Wife.

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