The messages came in a flurry, from every group chat on every channel I’ve ever been a part of. My friends from all countries sent notes of cheers and congratulations. My English-born (and naturalized American) husband started crying.
And I felt…nothing.
Well, not exactly nothing. I’ll admit, I did get some chills thinking about Vice President Elect Harris, (whom I’ll call by this name rather than Kamala because she deserves the credit this title bestows), and the barriers she is breaking.
But the overwhelming feeling I have is numbness.
Maybe it’s a side effect of Covid-19. Some people lose their sense of taste and smell. I haven’t been infected, but has the uncertainty of the year dulled my senses?
Maybe it’s the length of the election cycle. We started three years ago with more than 25 Democratic candidates. How can one not feel fatigued by this process?
Maybe it’s the aftermath of the chaos of the past four years, the disintegration of truth and the fact that I can’t figure out what to believe anymore.
Maybe I’m afraid that despite the election results, we have crossed a boundary and regardless of what happens or who is our leader, our States are no longer United.
Maybe it’s because I’m living abroad, and even though my influences remain American-centric, I’m not sure I know what it means to feel American anymore. Which, in and of itself, leads me down some interesting rabbit holes…
Maybe it’s that Biden feels a bit like an anachronism; a leader who hasn’t adapted his style to the always-on-social-media-influencer environment we live in today. He’s doesn’t trade in charisma, and he doesn’t have the charm and sway of most of our recent Presidents.
Maybe — and it’s hardly a maybe — we, as a culture, put too much value in the cult of celebrity. We focus more on the showmanship (showpersonship?) than on the show; we’re swayed by the storyteller rather than the story.
Maybe it’s a time for quiet(er) leaders.
Maybe they don’t inspire an emotional response.
But maybe they’ll inspire a lasting one.