It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? It sounds very new and different; it is a "sea-change." Political reality today is not anything like it was yesterday. So many of us have waited such a long time for this moment, that it is a bit overwhelming.
This post's happy illustration photo was taken before the election. Barack Obama's election victory does not mean his situation gets any easier. Closeups on television during his acceptance speech last night showed that he has more gray hair now. And though his voice was strong, it was unusually subdued. No doubt it was due to the recent loss of his maternal grandmother, to exhaustion after a two-year campaign, and to the weight of the world descending on his slim shoulders.
The 2008 election marks the start of a welcome pendulum swing, a contemporary period of political transition from Right to Left. Moving from conservative to progressive, there is the potential for our people to move from reporting huge disappointment to speaking of a measure of satisfaction. It marks the bare beginnings of a better America, perhaps even a better world. That idea, it seems to me, was likely at the center of the floods of tears reported by so many of us in the blogosphere and seen on television. The origin of my own tears goes deeper than the historical circumstances of Obama's election. They have to do with hope for change and relief that a dark period is coming to an end.
"President-elect Obama" rings hollow, however, if you are a Republican on the losing side. Listening to Senator McCain's speech last night gave me just a bit of hope that his chastened party will be able, as one of them said, be able to move completely through the five stages of grief. It would be good if that happened, if Republicans could be cooperative, but I will not be holding my breath. Democrats made significant gains in both houses of Congress. However, with Democrats shy of the 60 votes needed to quiet permanent minority filibuster mode, recalcitrant Republicans can be a problem in the Senate. They will either get on board or stay angry; they will not be able to make a huge difference. The movement is larger than that, and it feels good to be a small part of it.
The nation is now marching to the beat of a different drummer. And it started immediately. For example, thousands of cheering folks marched on Pennsylvania Avenue to the "People's House" in Washington D.C. -- to the front of the White House, to the house where a new family and a new puppy will be moving in in 75 days or so. Upon reflection it makes me realize that the people in Washington were reclaiming the peoples' house for Obama. It was nothing like an insurrection, however. It was a notice that said, "We're still here!"
Democrats now hold down the winning side -- That unfamiliar phrase sounds like a big change, very new and unusual. Yesterday's election is a result of votes cast by many more change constituencies than mere Democrats. The chorus of new voices formed a strange coalition, Conservatives and Independents and Youth and College-educated and New Englanders and Southerners, etc., etc. The crowd celebrating in Chicago signaled that the new order begins with diversity and will continue with reconciliation. It was absolutely heartwarming to contemplate as our country moves towards the end of the first decade of the 21st century.
True to these modern "wired" times, our newly elected president's biography has already been updated in Wikipedia: Barack Hussein Obama II has entered the history books as the first African-American elected to the U.S. presidency. His family of origin celebrates in Kenya. President Obama and his family will move into the White House January 20, 2009.
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