There's no denying that things are different here in the states now compared to when I left. Turns out two years is a decent chunk of time. Especially here in Vermont, the push for local sustainability and social responsibility is impressive, if not inspiring. The eagerness with which the people around me discuss major topics surprises me, and the intelligence with which they discuss them excites me.
The icing on the cake, though, is our new President Elect, Barack Obama. I intentionally did not follow the spectator sport that was our election coverage. When I did, it only served to stress me out, regardless of who it was leaning toward. On November 4th I stayed at home and played video games as I decided that watching the coverage in no way enriched my evening. I figured I'd find out who won in the morning and would be able to handle the news with a few degrees more sanity for having gotten a good night's sleep.
So 11 o'clock rolls around and I turn off Resident Evil 4 for a brief moment and there it is! The election has been called for Obama. I breathed a sigh of relief and resumed greeting my friend Djimi who had just showed up for a visit.
Now that all of this is over I can say, with no uncertainty, that I have never felt more inspired, more confident, more optimistic, and more proud to be an American than watching Obama's victory speach. Obama is thoughtful, intelligent, and eloquent. When he explains the current state of things, and how he hopes to improve them, I can actually follow him instead of getting lost in rhetoric and vague statements of ideals. With Obama, he tells you flatly what steps he will take. You feel informed, as if he cares about whether or not you feel involved. Other candidates never made me feel like I knew what their plan was. A decision between something clear yet mutable and something unknown but "unwavering" is not a decision.
I think I can best sum up how I feel about the election with this: Obama makes me want to become involved with the Peace Corps again. Not from a sense of "I need to show the world Americans are not all evil" this time, but from a genuine desire to represent my country.