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The road ahead

Posted on | November 4, 2008 | No Comments

When this election campaign narrowed down to Obama and McCain, I celebrated. This was the first time in my life that I had two presidential candidates I liked. The media was clearly in the tank for Obama (Hillary Clinton knows that first hand) but McCain did himself no favors as a campaigner. He never articulated a reasonable economic policy (neither did Obama, but McCain’s waffling and murkiness on this issue were unsettling). Then came Palin, and that was all she wrote.
People are hungry for change, and in the presidential and Senate elections tonight, they’ve spoken. Historically so.
Good for us. Sure he has little experience, but wake up Wednesday with a presidential nominee who represents a new face of America; not just representative of the African-American community, but of the utter diversity that has long been the reality of much of the country.
The world supposedly “hates” the United States. This is a convenient story line perpetuated by the simple-minded at home and the jealous abroad. We have projected a white male face for most of our history. But the reality is that with the exception of the middle ot the country, America is the most diverse large nation in the history of the world. You see it every day in California, New York, Massachusetts, D.C. People of all creeds continue to come to this country, and they obviously don’t hate us; they appreciate, they yearn for the hope and prospects that the country offers.
Tonight’s election validates the spirit of the country–an African-American president and 17 women in the Senate. It’s not always been easy; it’s not always been pretty, but it’s always progress. Since 1776.
You don’t see that in China, Japan, France, Russia and you certainly don’t see it in the Middle East.
I started to write this before Obama came on stage in Chicago to deliver his stirring speech, a speech in which he described America as a place of “democracy, liberty and unyielding hope.”
Tomorrow the work begins. This is not the “work begins” of an ordinary presidential transition. This is the work begins at the dawn of what could be one of the toughest periods in American history. David Brooks articulated this well this morning:

We’re probably entering a period, in other words, in which smart young liberals meet a stone-cold scarcity that they do not seem to recognize or have a plan for.

So the work begins. We’ll breathe in the sweet oxygen of fabulous oratory, but a marathon takes more than that. At least we have a good start.

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No Responses to “The road ahead”

  1. Loring Wirbel
    November 5th, 2008 @ 9:03 am

    Two thoughts: JFK inspired people at a time of plenty, but his actions on the ground never lived up to his rhetoric. People forget that JFK made some truly awful decisions on many issues. As you said, Obama has the additional hurdle of entering at a time of scarcity. Good luck to him.

    As for McCain, he did as well as any Republican could have done in these circumstances, and I don’t believe Sarah was a millstone. Instead, she underscores the problem the party will have going forward: she mobilizes a certain base, but that base has been discredited, and is despised by the centrists who left the party. If the Republicans try to woo more arch-conservatives, they will self-immolate. If they try to re-invent themselves, there’s unlikely to be room for Sarah in 2012.

  2. wretch
    November 5th, 2008 @ 12:20 pm

    I’d prefer experience AND judgment, but since my choice was between experience OR judgment, I’m content to have got the latter.

    And I would like to suggest you poll friends and acquaintances who have traveled abroad in the last 8 years. In my very limited experience, and in the most common experience I hear from those who have traveled more widely than I, no one hates the U.S. per se, but they most certainly are confounded by, sometimes fear, and occasionally do hate the face we presented the world the last 8 years, the face of a bully and a fool.

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