When I started this countdown to election day last week, I always knew we'd wind up with this song. The rest was flexible, but there was never any doubt that we would wind up here, with will.i.am's riff off of Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" speech, because no other song, old or new, could really capture what Obama's campaign inspired in so many people.
Look, I know that Barack Obama, should he close the deal and be the President for the next four years, will disappoint me. He can't help but disappoint me because, as I've said before, I'm a progressive, and no one who could possibly get elected to the Presidency could agree with me on even a majority of things. I'm a fringe type, always trying to drag the Overton window a little farther left. If I ever find myself in love with a mainstream candidate, it's time to take away my progressive card--that's just the nature of the game.
And yet, Barack Obama managed to do something no other nominee has ever pulled off for me--not Al Gore, not Bill Clinton, certainly not John Kerry. He managed to convince me that there are a lot of people in this country who are still willing to work together to make this a better country. He appealed to our better natures instead of our baser instincts.
And most of all, he made me believe that there are enough of us to win.
The last Democratic President to win a majority of the popular vote was Jimmy Carter in 1976, and he only barely squeaked out 50.1%. Before that it was LBJ's mammoth victory over Goldwater in 1964. Clinton won handily in the Electoral College, but he never broke the 50% barrier, and for six of his eight years in office, the opposition party dominated the Congress. Between that and Clinton's penchant for triangulation, progressives never felt like they were winning the debate.
In 2004, Howard Dean told Democrats to be proud of their party again, and lots of us listened. In 2006, we claimed resounding victories in the House and Senate and got a taste for winning. And now we stand ready to claim not only more seats in the Congress, but to elect the first non-white person to hold the highest position of authority we have, and by astounding margins, if the polls are accurate. It's thrilling to be a part of it, even if it's just in some small way.
Which is why I came back to this song and knew we had to end with it, because this election is the first one where I really feel like I'm voting, in a small way, not for a candidate so much as for a movement. It's the way Obama always manages to use "we" in his speeches, and that's what will.i.am picked up on so beautifully. Si se puede. Yes we can.