05 November 2008


last night (presidential election night), i wasn't able to stay up for more than the preliminary returns, since i faced an early wake-up for work. i went to bed around 8 p.m., with obama building a convincing and expected lead. but wouldn't you know, i woke up around 2 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. so i checked the tv, but election coverage had already ended. the NYTimes webpage gave me the news of obama's sweeping victory, and i was unable to fall back asleep after that.

this day has been so long in coming, on many fronts. in the more immediate context of the disgrace we charitably call the bush presidency, we've been saddled with eight years of needless war, the rape of the environment, the near destruction of the world economy, repeated injuries to our well-being and insults to our intelligence. (one might question the intelligence of an electorate that would prolong the agony for a second term, but apparently there are limits even for the party faithful, given how deeply bush's approval rating has tanked.)

throughout the primaries and the campaign, obama held a steady course, never lost his cool or his focus. he appears to be the genuine article, someone who legitimately places the needs of ALL the people he serves (not just the richest donors) first. which is what sets true liberals apart from conservatives, in my mind. he did not stoop to the smear tactics which the republicans, and even hillary clinton a few times, employed with relish. he held the high moral ground, and persisted in his message of hope, of finding common cause, of transcendant vision. his intelligence, diligence, eloquence and strength of character will, i believe, place him alongside lincoln, fdr, and jfk among our greatest and most inspiring leaders.

in a more historic context, going back decades to the struggles of the civil rights movement, obama's ascendancy to the presidency seems more like an impossible dream come true. i am proud beyond words that i've lived to see the day when a black man or woman will take the oath of office. so many good souls fought so hard, enduring tears and bloodshed and humiliation and death, to bring this day about. it is a culmination most devoutly to be wished. and someday (sooner rather than later, now that this threshold has been crossed), when our first latino or woman or jew or asian or native american is elected, the sweetness of the moment will only be enhanced.

i wish that bobby kennedy and dr. martin luther king, jr., could have lived to see this moment in history -- a moment when the majority of voters chose a candidate based "on the content of his character, not on the color of his skin." this is a defining moment in our national story.

obama is human, therefore imperfect, and he will make mistakes. but fewer mistakes, i think, than most would. he has inherited problems vaster in scope and in number than any of his predecessors (thank you, george. thank you, dick. thank you, donald. thank you, oil barons. thank you, wall street greed merchants.). he will need a crack team to advise and assist him, not unlike the kennedy brain trust. the talent is out there. the will is there. the need is there.

barack obama, step forward and meet your constituency -- the planet. i wish you well.

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