Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President-Elect Obama

We were up most of the night watching the election returns, hoping on the one hand, but afraid of the “Bradley effect” on the other, and almost resigned to that possibility. When the election was called at 11 o’clock, we let our guard down and had a joyous celebration of hugs, high fives and kisses with our son Jonathan who is visiting. It was a time for some tears alongside our brimming happiness.

Ann said she wishes she were thirty years younger just to see what the real outcome of this election might be. But we’ve already lived through some of the most tumultuous years in American history with perhaps only the Revolutionary and the Civil War eras rivaling the events our lifetimes: WWII, the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, Kennedy’s New Frontier and his assassination, the Vietnam War and its aftermath, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the ignominious resignation of Richard M. Nixon, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, 9/11 and its aftermath including the uncalled-for war in Iraq, and finally the decline of our reputation abroad and our near economic bankruptcy.

I have no illusions that much will change in the near term, but at least we've set a new direction and I believe that is the main responsibility of a President, to establish a moral compass, define objectives, and rally the nation to participate in achieving them. No doubt this will require sacrifices and I think we’re finally prepared to make those.

What an historic night. It makes me think of how we felt when we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon -- it was with complete wonderment. To think our country has come this far. I wonder what our founding fathers would think of this election, a real validation of the ideals of our constitution (although it specifically postponed any action on slavery for at least the first twenty years of our young nation). However, like the Declaration of Independence, this election is also a statement to the rest of the world, something all Americans can take pride in, even with all the problems we must begin to address.

So we pass the baton to another generation, a generation that waged an incredible campaign – with the liberating technology of the Internet -- to achieve what I thought would not be possible in my lifetime, electing an African American to our nation’s highest office. Last May I wrote an “open letter” to Senator Obama, before he was officially designated the Democratic Party’s nominee. I still feel the same way:

One of the reasons I write this blog is to provide a personal, grassroots perspective on some of the major events of my lifetime. Last night was one of those moments.