First off, I have to say it – WHOO-HOO!
Now, that said, on this historic morning in America, a lot of folks (many of them sharing my politics) are going to be posting things like “Yay! The Last Son of Krypton has claimed his birthright and defeated the big bad monster!” This is because they have allowed their emotional jubilation at the sight of Barack Obama ascending to the Presidency of these United States to cloud their perception of more peripheral truths, namely:
1) McCain is nobody’s idea of a monster. Wrong man for the job or not, he’s a hero and deserves our respect. Gracious in defeat (if not in his campaigning), noble in his manner, John McCain’s concession should prove as an example to everyone who’s interested in moving on and getting down to the business of getting our country back on track. I say this NOT as someone blind to his fear-based campaign strategy, but as someone who truly admires a man willing to serve a country he clearly loves both politically and militarily, endure (for the most part) the opprobrium of his own party in the name of doing what he believes to be right, and, yes, occasionally behave as a “maverick,” if one can still use that word with any shred of sincerity. We may not agree on a lot of the issues, but I cannot help but admire him for everything he’s done, as well as his exhortations for unity in the aftermath of this history-making race.
2) Barack and Biden won, yes. This is exciting. This is historic. This is truly unprecedented and electrifying in its impact. It is also going to be, as Barack put it, “a long road and a steep climb.” In addition to the White House, Barack has also inherited a country in economic crisis, a war on two fronts, and a populace perilously close to being divided against itself over issues of faith. This is akin to fighting for two years for the right to muck out the Augean Stables – and it will take Herculean strength indeed to re-route the rivers of conciliatory healing and wisdom through our clogged stalls and aisles. Of course, it’s not a one-man job to do so; all of the bridge-building, aisle-crossing and effective compromise Obama pledged in his campaign will have to be brought to bear in order to heal the rifts that divide us…or at least begin the process. Either way, it’s a big mess to clean up, and while I’m over the moon that Obama’s leading the charge, it will be a team effort. This is the beginning, not the end, of the hard work.
3) Given the rifts I talked about above, there’s a real danger to the life of our next President. I have been shocked – literally shocked – by the number of people who have greeted my elation with “We’ll see how long he lasts.” Given our country’s history of assassins, both bumbling and monstrous, I do fear for Obama’s life. I fear his mere presence will be seen as a threat that requires his removal by people whose best interests lie in continued division and hatred.
But it is my sincere hope that Obama will not be cowed by the threat of evil. It is my hope that he will continue to embrace and espouse not only hope, which is paradoxically ephemeral and eternal, but progress, and that the change he brings will lead us toward something better, despite the shadow of fear. It is my hope he will stand on the power of his principles, and it is my hope that he will build strong partnerships throughout our government that will ensure a better life for the people of the United States.
So come on, friends (and I say that sincerely…black or white, red or blue, Conservative or Democrat, we are all, at heart, Americans). Let’s celebrate a chance at something truly new, positive and powerful in the leadership of our nation. Let’s look forward not with trepidation, but anticipation, setting aside the animosity and anger that have kept us from working effectively to our shared benefit.
Let’s get to work.