Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Prologue to the New America?

Just to let you know, I am feeling markedly better today. Still a little bit of the crud hanging on, but today was much more manageable. Could it have been a lightness of spirit brought on by the return of a Democrat to the White House? Probably not. If it were John Kerry, I wouldn't have had that hop in my step this morning. Could it have been the pleasure of knowing the outcome of a presidential election on the same day as the election itself? Probably not. I would have gone to bed at the same time regardless of the status of the Electoral College. Could it have been the truly historic result of yesterday's highly participated-in election? Well, now there is a possibility.

I have watched a few elections covered in my time. Even as a young lad, I enjoyed the coverage of the Reagan-Carter square off of 1980, the Reagan-Mondale debacle of 1984, the Bush-Dukakis ugliness of 1988. I became even more involved and invested in the Clinton miracle of 1992 (although I was a Tsongas guy in my first official election). And on it goes. I've felt the highs and the lows. I have watched awesome debates and seen mud thrown. I have seen the political process at its best and its worst. I've been overwhelmed at my candidates' losses. I have been overjoyed at my candidates' victories. But I have never felt the way I felt last night.

I am sure that hundreds of people have confessed similar things in columns and blogs around the nation and the Internets, and most of them have probably done a greater job than I ever could. That does not stop me from saying that when that result was announced last night, I felt like people must have felt when victory was declared in Europe in World War II, when people watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon (I was only five months old), when any great triumph of human struggle and perseverance has been reached.

No matter where you may lie on the political spectrum, one would have to be as unenlightened as a bag of rocks not to feel and appreciate the historic importance of last night's result. Will it be a true point of departure for our nation? Will our historic shame become somehow an openly dealt with issue that can be solved? Is this mere event enough to allow us to really get past it? I don't know. It, in itself, is significant. I wonder how it will change the face of America's racial dialogue. I am eager to find out.

But, after the euphoria of seeing the true promise of our nation manifest before my very eyes, reality began to sink in. Barack Obama has a tough job ahead of him, and, because of his historically significant achievement, he will be held to the highest standard from Day One. It is only with a small amount of hyperbole that I use the term savior to refer to many people's attitude toward President-elect Obama. People's attitudes at home and abroad.

We at home will expect him to save us. From the economy. From our health care system. From our own mistakes at home and abroad. From our own history. And the world will expect him to save America, in the hope that it restore its luster as a beacon of freedom, opportunity, and liberty:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

But, can a man (or woman) perform such a feat? Well, in all honesty, he (or she) can. But, this particular man must be a man of some integrity, a man of boundless energy and heart, a man of wisdom and good counsel. A man like...well...Abraham Lincoln (in my opinion).

Is Barack Obama that man? I am grateful that we will have the opportunity to find out.

1 comment:

La Fashionista said...

Like you, I feel the magnitude of what we all have witnessed. The spirit in the air was remarkable everywhere I went today.

What also struck me as I was watching Obama's acceptance speech last night was his seriousness underneath the happiness. I think he has an awareness of what he is up against, and he didn't spend all kinds of energy lolling in a narcissistic, self-congratulatory, smug stupor (which is totally how I have found W to be throughout the past eight years). Instead, Obama seemed to be setting his jaw squarely and earnestly for what lies ahead.

I wonder how he will be tested. I admire his integrity, compassion, and thoughtfulness. I too am grateful to witness his presidency.


PS - I'm hoping to go to the Inauguration!!! :)