We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
There is no question that the election of a bi-racial man with an African name to our highest office is a powerful symbol of this dream becoming undeniable reality--for anyone. Eugene Robinson writes about the racial aspect of this event in The Washington Post.
I almost lost it Tuesday night when television cameras found the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the crowd at Chicago's Grant Park and I saw the tears streaming down his face. His brio and bluster were gone, replaced by what looked like awestruck humility and unrestrained joy.
I did lose it, minutes before the television networks projected that Barack Obama would be the 44th president of the United States, when I called my parents in Orangeburg, S.C. I thought of the sacrifices they made and the struggles they endured so that my generation could climb higher. I felt so happy that they were here to savor this incredible moment.
It is also true that our country has endured a very dark time over the past eight years in which it seemed that the idea of America had become tarnished if not lost. Judith Warner addresses this aspect in her New York Times blog.
An era of unbridled deregulation, wealth-enhancing perks for the already well-off, and miserly indifference to the poor and middle class; of the recasting of greed as goodness, the equation of bellicose provincialism with patriotism, the reframing of bigotry as small-town decency.
To many of us, Obama's win signalled the triumph of competence over ideology, pragmatism over partisanship, and with that the return to our ideals. The grown-ups are back in charge.
“To those who would tear the world down: we will defeat you,” he promised. “This is our moment. This is our time.” The glory of Barack Obama is that there are so many different kinds of us who can claim a piece of that “our.” African-Americans, Democrats, post-boomers, progressives, people who rose from essentially nowhere and through hard work and determination succeeded beyond their parents’ wildest dreams are the most obvious.
But there are also people who respect intelligence and good grammar. People who see their spouse as their “best friend,” as Barack called Michelle on Tuesday night.
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan adds comment on his blog at The Atlantic.
What I wrote last Monday was not meant casually. Knowing that the Bush-Cheney-Addington axis will be forced out of power is an immense, slackening relief. I've felt compelled by politics these past few years in ways I don't like or enjoy. With men and women finally back in power I can trust to act reasonably and ethically and within the rule of law, I feel less hesitation in getting on with life.
Frank Rich in the New York Times:
Our nation was still in the same ditch it had been the day before, but the atmosphere was giddy. We felt good not only because we had breached a racial barrier as old as the Republic. Dawn also brought the realization that we were at last emerging from an abusive relationship with our country’s 21st-century leaders.[...]
For eight years, we’ve been told by those in power that we are small, bigoted and stupid — easily divided and easily frightened. This was the toxic catechism of Bush-Rove politics. It was the soiled banner picked up by the sad McCain campaign, and it was often abetted by an amen corner in the dominant news media. We heard this slander of America so often that we all started to believe it, liberals most certainly included.[...]
So even as we celebrated our first black president, we looked around and rediscovered the nation that had elected him. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Obama said in February, and indeed millions of such Americans were here all along, waiting for a leader. This was the week that they reclaimed their country.--Ballard Burgher