In Los Angeles County, where the polls closed after Obama’s election was a foregone conclusion, 81% of registered voters marked a ballot. When year after year voter participation rates hovered around 50%, I often felt like our democracy was losing its essence.
But not this morning.
Or as a New York Times correspondent writing from the Gaza Strip in Palestine put it,
From far away, this is how it looks: There is a country out there where tens of millions of white Christians, voting freely, select as their leader a black man of modest origin, the son of a Muslim. There is a place on Earth — call it America — where such a thing happens.
At 8 PM in Los Angeles last night, when NBC called the election for Obama, I looked around my living room full of friends, many of them with tears streaming down their faces, and tried to think back if there had ever been a political moment like this in our lives. Most of us are in our late 50’s or early sixties, though there was a group of our children in their 20’s as well–and I concluded that there had not been such a moment of joy in our political lives.
We cannot underestimate the herculean task that lies before Barack Obama. Though I have been on his side from the very beginning of his Presidential journey, we cannot expect that the accumulated mistakes of 30 years of neoconservative philosophy to be quickly erased. In his victory speech, echoing Dr. King’s prophetic words from Memphis, Barack indicated the steepness of the hill to climb.
The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep.We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there.
One last thought. Obama’s victory margin of 7 million votes (52%-46%) is a major landslide, the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1984. The Republican Party must now rethink its role in America’s renewal. McCain tried in his concession speech to begin to close some wounds that he and Palin had worked viciously to open in this last month. The boos from his crowd,when he mentioned Barack’s name, are a testament to the politics of fear that have been the defining tactic of Republicans since 2000. They must now realize that their view is not shared by the majority of Americans. The Palin/Limbaugh wing of the party will want to start an immediate guerrilla movement to delegitimize Obama. McCain and the cooler heads in the center right must prevail.
They have one choice–you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.