"I Will Follow Him": Obama As My Personal Jesus
Issue date: 9/18/08 Section: Opinions
Obama is my homeboy. And I'm not saying that because he's black - I'm saying that in reference to those Urban Outfitters t-shirts from a couple years ago that said, "Jesus is my homeboy." Yes, I just said it. Obama is my Jesus.
While you may be overtly religious and find this to be idol-worshipping, or may be overtly politically correct and just know that everything in that sentence could be found offensive, I'm afraid it's true anyway.
As with many spiritual enlightenments, mine came in the middle of a bleak, hopeless period of my life. The innocent, idealistic world of politics that had shaped my childhood, the one that taught me how the president is a good guy, one who makes you feel safe, gives a speech on TV every once in a while and one you'd feel honored to shake hands with, had been slowly whittled into a deep rooted cynicism to anything politically related.
The crush of the Bush victory over Gore was only the first mar on my previously consummate ideal of the American administration. And the tragedies just kept continuing: Bush's response to the Sept.11 attacks, the invasion of Iraq, the tax cuts for the rich, the downward spiral continued squashing my scant hope that the political world and state of our country could be saved.
Then I found my miracle. Stumbling through my hopeless world, afraid to turn to anyone with my political questions of morality, my concerns about the afterlife of the country I called home, a voice spoke to me.
Barack Obama bore to me his testimony in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention, a testimony that included believing in concepts as simple and wholesome as the Constitution; a belief the current administration had done away with entirely. I was 17 and my antipathy for politicians was already in place before I had even reached the age to legally vote for one. He, though, seemed different. I was intrigued. I would follow him. I believed however, that my discipleship would lead me on a much longer path to political change than was true. He was much too young, not white enough, not rich enough, not jaded - the country certainly wasn't ready for this, maybe in 12 or 16 years he would be able to run in the Democratic primary, I thought.
My interest was piqued, but the dark time lived on until my faith in others was renewed on Jan. 4 in the Iowa state primary. Obama had beat out squeaky clean southern boy John Edwards and former first lady and next in the line of political succession Hillary Clinton. I was in shock. And then I came to Jesus/Obama.
I donated to the campaign. I followed every primary with bated breath, and muttered my prayers to the political gods while proselytizing the miracle of my new prophet. I got a car magnet, I bought a t-shirt; a pin and bumper sticker are on their way to my campus mailbox. Then the media and right wing questioning began: what is he? A rock star, or the next president? Bono or Britney? The naysayers used his popularity among young people against him. Who had ever heard of political posters in college dorm rooms? Bumper stickers on the back of your high school neighbor's Jetta? Guess what those "Jesus is my homeboy" t-shirts were replaced with at Urban Outfitters? A smiling Obama under his own cutesy sayings like "Obama for yo Mama."
I must admit, I questioned this myself. After all, would I have ever bought a t-shirt with Al Gore's face on it? Was this all he was, the newest pop culture fad? I questioned my newfound faith - was it all only a phase, like the time I thought I was Baptist in junior high? But my inner dogmatic struggle only helped cement my beliefs as I followed politics more closely than ever before. Obama's mere presence, knowledge and enthusiasm in the political realm inspired my own desire to understand what exactly had gone wrong, what exactly he could do to remedy the mess we'd made.
Then I began to realize I wasn't the only one trying to buy a WWOD bracelet and spending my weekends scouring CNN.com. The rock star-type love for Obama wasn't just because he was pretty and in the media. Others too, had seen him as a shining light, heard that mythical voice boom out over the mountaintops; people were wearing the t-shirt because they would rather wear something representing a politician than a pop star. People everywhere, young and old, were caring again. So what's the problem here?
I've officially been saved, and soon, whether they like it or not, the rest of the country will be too. I will follow him, all the way to the White House, and I'll be standing there in our nation's capital in January 2009, when Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States of America. In the name of Obama, Amen.