The most amazing thing that happened in Ann Arbor Tuesday night wasn’t Barack Obama winning the presidential election. It was the campus reaction. Late into the night, people were marching in the streets, unplanned, through the Diag, to Michigan Stadium and back, singing, dancing, hugging, playing drums, horns and didgeridoos, waving American flags, shouting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing our national anthem with tears running down their faces. For students at this university and at universities all over the country, Tuesday night was more than a landslide Democratic victory and a swing of the left-right pendulum. It was the coming of age of a generation — a generation born on Sept. 11 and raised during an unjust war.

I’ve been a student at this university on and off for eight years. I was a freshman, just beginning my politically aware life, when George W. Bush was elected to his first term. In his first few months in office, Bush had already begun systematically destroying our civil liberties, dismantling our economic regulations, expanding our global hegemony and thoroughly embarrassing us in the eyes of the rest of the world.

At that time, a friend of mine said to me, “All we need is some kind of major disaster to bring us together, and we’ll have a movement. It’ll be like the ’60s again.”

It’s laughable now, but at the time it already seemed like things couldn’t get much worse. And then one morning I woke up in my dorm room at East Quad, turned on the television, and watched the towers crumble. I said to myself, “This is it. This is the wake-up call we’ve been waiting for. Now we will have a movement.”

And a movement began. But it was a movement in the complete opposite direction from the one I had imagined. It was a movement based on fear and hatred rather than peace and love. In the coming years I found out just how much worse things could get. Every time something terrible happened, I said to myself, “Surely now, our movement will begin.” And every time, I was disappointed.

I did my part. I joined student activist groups. I went to protests and rallies in Washington D.C., Chicago, Ann Arbor and elsewhere. I tried to organize. And I kept saying to myself, “Where’s the movement?”

Then on the morning of Nov. 3, 2004, after finding out that Bush had been re-elected, I buried my head in the sand. I swore off newspapers and magazines for almost two years. Every news story I heard, read or watched made me so angry it hurt. I lost hope. And even when I re-emerged, I was so jaded that I thought things would never change.

But Tuesday night I saw something I’ve never before seen. For the first time in my life, I saw people chanting, yelling and marching in the streets — not out of rage, but out of joy. Not fighting, but celebrating. Not trying to change an unchangeable system but rejoicing in the change we had already made. And for probably the first time in my life, I felt proud to be an American.

For us, Obama is more than a president. He is more than a milestone in civil rights history. He is a symbol — a symbol of equality, a symbol of cooperation and most importantly, a symbol of hope. He is the Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of a new generation. Our generation.

Maybe this is the movement for which I’ve been waiting. Maybe our generation will finally finish the work our parents started. I believe that this movement has been waiting to happen for a long time, and this may very well be our chance. Because for the first time in my life, it’s not something terrible that is bringing us together, but something wonderful. Bush’s most successful political achievement was killing the hope of his opposition. Obama’s, so far, has been nursing it back to life.

Maybe this is our moment. But we have to make it happen. We can.

Adam Konner is an RC senior.

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