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Holding My Breath

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I wasn't especially surprised to read about the pair of skinheads arrested for plotting to kill Senator Obama the other day. Everyone, especially black Democrats like me, has known that as much as his candidacy sparked exuberance in us, it would also unleash an inchoate hatred in others. I have been prepared for this and know that just as we control our fears and rationally combat foreign terrorists, these domestic terrorists will also have to be aggressively and relentlessly infiltrated, disrupted and destroyed.

What has shocked me, however, is how nervous I am about the junior Senator from Illinois actually succeeding.

Waiting for election night this year is like being a kid waiting for Christmas Day. You've been lobbying your parents for a new bicycle since school started but their responses have always been annoyingly coy. To make matters worse your dad came home a few days earlier with something in the back of the station wagon, but when you stepped outside to take a look he yelled at you to hurry back in. Next thing you know, for the entire week before Christmas, you've been forbidden to enter the garage.

You're pretty positive that the new ten-speed is your big gift this Christmas. You can almost smell the new seat. However the Charlie Brown in you can more easily imagine being crushed and permanently scarred by disappointment than relieved and elated by satisfaction.
Barring some extraordinary event this week, sometime in the evening on November 4th, Barack Obama will go from being the Democratic nominee to the President-elect of the United States of America.

If you think that I'll finally breath easier you misunderestimate -- in the words of Obama's predecessor -- the depths of my neuroses.

If you're at all like me and think these next few days are torture, just imagine how interminable the next almost three months before his inauguration will feel? Sure, I'll celebrate election night if Obama wins, but I know that I won't really believe it until noon on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009. I picture it as a brilliantly blue, unseasonably, globally, warm day when Chief Justice Roberts will ask Obama to raise his right hand and repeat after him: "I solemnly swear to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

I think between now and that moment I will set the world record for breaths held.

"What a long, strange trip it's been." I'm just a year younger than Obama and when I was a kid daydreaming about the 21st century I imagined people zipping to work with personal jetpacks, levitating cars and ninety-year-olds looking like twenty-year-olds in his and hers spandex jumpsuits. I imagined x-wing starfighters and demolecularizing transporters and phasers I could set to stun.

What I never imagined was a black President. On Star Trek, yes the world was multi-racial, but Kirk was still king.

These almost two years of the Obama candidacy rewrote the book. Barack Obama is the Seabiscuit of our generation. The absurd long shot who reminds us of the power of even our most ridiculous dreams.

I'm a patriot. Since I was a child I have always loved my country. But if Obama really does win, then I think I will feel -- perhaps for the first time -- that my country loves me back.