Last night San Francisco Bay Area literary icons Tobias Wolff, Daniel Handler, Dave Eggers, Michael Chabon, Andrew Sean Greer, Vendela Vida, and Lisa Brown turned out to show their support for Senator Barack Obama. It was an incredible event—over a hundred people jam-packed into a beautiful Berkeley home, noshing on ice cream sundaes.
Tobias Wolff told the audience why Obama inspired him. Wolff reminded us that "We can only be what we can imagine being. He also said, "Obama, unlike other politicians, is able to imagine far beyond the usual limits of a pandering, base-stroking politics. The America Obama imagines-one where we can come together to tackle the most difficult issues of the day-is the America we all long to be a part of."
"When Chabon and Ayelet told me that they were supporting Barack Obama I thought they were crazy," said Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket), who also attended.
Handler went on to say, "I didn't know anything about him, but I knew, from growing up in the Bay Area and writing fiction for a living, that I lived in a bubble, and that my progressive views would never be addressed by any candidate who could possibly be elected, because I was crazy and out of touch to have such views, and so this guy Barack Obama, who had a real shot at the presidency, was certainly not going to say anything I believed in, because I lived in a bubble, and that's why I'd never believed in a presidential candidate before, and they took me to meet him and hear him speak.
"He seemed like a human being, which startled me, and the first few sentences of his speech were the expected generalities, and then he got specific and I started to cry. I started to cry because he was saying everything I thought I'd never hear from a presidential candidate, everything I wanted to hear, everything I believed, and I realized that I wasn't crazy, and neither were his supporters, and that the bubble I lived in was expanding, and that I was hearing a man who we the people needed as the next president," Handler said. "And then I wrote a check."
Michael Chabon spoke about the moment he "realized how special Obama is, that he has a first-rate intelligence, and how remarkable it would be to have a president capable of and willing to embrace complexity and ambiguity." Chabon, my husband, quoted F. Scott Fitzgerald, in describing Obama as a man who is able "to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
Finally, I spoke. I spoke about my incredible experience listening to Obama's victory speech in South Carolina, in the very heart of Dixie, the old South, where streets are called things like "Secessionville" and the Confederate flag still waves, listening to hundreds of people of all ages and all colors chant, "Race Doesn't Matter, Race Doesn't Matter." In my opinion, Obama's election would prove that.
–Ayelet Waldman is the author of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. For more information about her fundraising efforts for Senator Obama, visit the personalized donation pageshe and Michael Chabon share.