When I was born, Jimmy Carter was President, but only for a short time. Ronald Reagan was inaugurated a mere 10 months after my birth. I've always felt a fondness for Reagan that is explained only by the fact that for so much of my formative years, he was in the Oval Office. He was the leader I grew up hearing about before I could form my own thoughts about politics and leadership.
Then came Bush 1 and the bombing of Kuwait. Fear of war struck me at 11 years old. I still vividly recall a dream I had during that time, with bombs (shaped like the cannon balls from Super Mario 3)falling in our front yard and my father running for the backyard. I can still see what clothes he was wearing. And that is what I most associate with George H.W. Bush--fear.
I feel blessed that my first son was born during the first term of the first black President of the United States. And I hope that he gets another 4 years to internalize Barack Obama as the leader in his youngest years, the one he grows up used to seeing at the podium. Because 20 months is not long enough for my son to have Barack Obama as a president.
And what will my son learn from a Mitt Romney presidency in the next 4 years, as he begins to understand how the world works? He'll see a staggeringly rich white businessman in the Oval Office. He'll hear about millionaires and banks and cheap labor in China and how the middle class just doesn't cut it.
He might glean that money is what gets you the presidency, not hope, not change, not caring for your neighbors, not giving those who need support the resources essential to a life well lived.
He might hear that a woman's place is at home and wonder why his mother isn't home with him all day. He might hear that all Muslims and non-Christians are wrong and to be feared, despite those he goes to daycare with every day. He might hear that his mother shouldn't have as strong a voice as his father. He might hear that money, that's the bottom line in America.
When I look at my son, I want so desperately for him to have the experience of a compassionate, quietly powerful, dedicated, intelligent leader for his childhood. Yes, Barack Obama's rich too, but he's self-made. He came from a broken home. He has daughters that he lifts up and a wife who is his equal partner.
His is the face I want my son to associate with President of the United States.