By Craig Hardegree | 

Four ladies under a tent on the food lane of the festival stopped their activities to pose with a mammoth-sized Jamaican jerk turkey leg. Smoke from a bar-b-que competed in the gentle breeze with the haze from a batch of slightly scorched caramelized popcorn. Across the perfectly manicured park, a lone voice beneath a stately pin oak crooned Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” In between, little boys tossed footballs.

A beekeeper with untrimmed sideburns and beard overlapping the bib on his pinstriped overalls sold flavored honey, made by bees that had feasted on the blooms of Tupelo trees. A seventyish puppeteer in a vest and fedora rapped “Mr. Top Hat Bones” as children clapping provided the syncopated beat.

A young white lady held a thin piece of pre-etched wood for a little black girl to delightfully split with her fist as the man in the tent attempted to sell martial arts lessons to her mother. A black family stopped for the father to take a picture of his two children with a furry mascot holding a Samurai sword.

A black male and a white female with a mixed child walked by and no one blinked. A Latino family walked by and no one raised an eyebrow. A plumbing company set up portable restrooms unnecessarily marked “Ladies” and “Gentlemen” but no one paid attention to the choice made by a person who was passable as either.

The Japanese Koi in the pond were fat and happy, apparently not at the expense of the ducks, judging by their girth as they napped on beds of fallen leaves in the warm sun.

This is Obama’s America.

Happy faces. Sapphire skies. Children laughing. Red, orange, gold leaves gliding.

He took a country that was in financial ruin, demoralized by record bankruptcies and bank failures and repossessions; a county that was hated and disrespected by the world; a county that was bogged-down in two wars; a country under dark ominous clouds of uncertainty, families without jobs, tossed from their homes, corporations without cash, about to go under.

And he made America great again.

This is not a “change” election.

The “change” election was eight years ago when we changed from despair to hope; from failure to success; from losing to winning; from frowns to smiles; from grey skies to blue; from Bush to Obama.

And this — over and above all other reasons — is why we’ll soon be saying “Madam President.”

Hillary isn’t winning because she’s the lesser of two evils; Hillary isn’t winning because she’s the happenstance beneficiary of an implosion on the other side.

She’s winning because she knew this wasn’t a change election; because she knew how bad things were eight years ago and knew most people’s lives have improved and knew people only vote for change when their lives are worse off than they were before; because she knew — in a level of irony that defies description — that the road to the White House ran straight through the middle of a third Obama term, to a waypoint she and President Obama charted together eight years ago.

She stayed true to their joint vision for America; true to her convictions; true to herself.

Trump paints a horrible picture of gloom and doom and looming storm clouds and fear and loathing and sackcloth and ashes and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth and the pale-horse rider of Death unleashing all Hell on America upon the opening of the 4th Seal.

That’s Trump’s America. An America that exists only in the scared minds and fearful hearts of people who leave nice jobs in expensive cars and drive to happy families in comfortable homes where they poison their minds ingesting frightening scenarios and apocalyptic prophecies before taking to social media to complain about their horrible lives.

But this?

These happy families living wonderful lives?

These leaves of fairness and equality and acceptance stirred about by the gentle winds of democracy beneath brilliant sapphire skies of hope?

This is Obama’s America.

End-Post-Craig-Hardegree

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