The Election

America.  World.  A distinction.

From The Guardian: Pres. George Bush

11/4/2004

Re-elected US president George Bush today said he intended to spend the “political capital” he earned campaigning for the White House.

In his first press conference since the election he acknowledged he had to “explain the decisions I make” but said he had every intention of following through with a second term agenda stretching from an overhaul of the tax system to “spreading freedom” in the Middle East.

“The people made it clear what they wanted,” he said. “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and I intend to spend it.”

Compare that to…

President-Elect Barack Obama

11/4/2008

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.”

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

FEAR IS OVERRATED: Solace for my Conservative Friends

I am exhausted.  Politically exhaused, mentally drained.  Some guy wrote an article “The End of Racism?” and I couldn’t even bring myself to read more than a few sentences.  Enough already!  I love Rachel Maddow but I just couldn’t listen today.  Give it a rest, everyone.  Yeh, I know I can just not tune in.

I was, of course, put off by Fox News’s coverage last night.  The gist was, “Barack Obama isn’t especially remarkable other than having a charisma and giving a good speech and being black.  Okay, he ran a good campaign, but he’s done nothing and we don’t really know who he is or what he believes.  Let’s be scared of this alien stranger.  I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.”

If I may paraphrase Sarah Silverman, “[Fox] News is dicks.”

I will ignore all of the “Impeach Obama” groups on Facebook.

But here’s what I wanted to say.  Now that Obama has been elected, it’s time to let it go.  Let go of the fear, mistrust and the talking points you’ve been inculcated with over the past few months.  It must be devastating to work so hard, come so close and lose a Presidential election.  I really do enjoy seeing the “old” John McCain.  The one that I respected before all of this madness.  The independent-minded guy who would go his own way to do the right thing.

Yes, it’s historic, but what I noticed is the crowds celebrating last night and attending rallies.  Not just because they were huge crowds but because of the racial, ethnic, generational, and socioeconomic diversity.

I have listened to Focus on the Family, The 700 Club, Concerned Women for America, commentary from Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, Ravi Zakarias, The Family Research Council, the American Family Association. Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck.  The American View with John (women who have abortions are murderers and they and the doctor performing the abortion should be executed) Lofton and Michael Peroutka.  On the other end of the spectrum I’ve listened to La Onda Bajita, Flashpoints with Dennis Bernstein, Ralph Nader and who all.

We are fractured and some people love nothing more (and some get paid handsomely) to encourage that division.  And some just do it because that’s just what they do.

If you have issues that you are passionate about, you’re going to keep fighting for them, hopefully in a civilized, rational way.   Focus on the Family was interesting today.  A lot of hard-righters are torn.  They’re excited in a way to have our first black President and felt the surge of pride and hope and energy, but they’re also scared of what they see as Obama’s super liberal agenda.  It was touching in a way.  You could hear Dr. Dobson getting choked up (he is a bit maudlin) when mentioning seeing Jesse Jackson’s tears.

But they will fight on for DOMA and against the Freedom of Choice Act.  Democrats increased their margins but don’t have a super majority.  Even if Obama aims to pass the FOCA, he still has to manage to get it through our bicameral legislative system.  Even if he appoints two Supreme Court justices and even if he goes way liberal with nominations, which I doubt, he’ll only be maintaining the same makeup as now.

And please don’t buy into that “he doesn’t care about ‘THE FAMILY'” bull.  Just because someone’s idea of family may be less strict or narrow, that doesn’t mean that they don’t want the best for the nuclear family, for the fundamental unit of social stability, health and success.

So relax.  Join in the celebration and then join in the “Um, okay, what do we do now?”

MOMENTOUS

I also felt a little emotional when I saw the shots of Jesse Jackson in Grant Park in Chicago with tears of pride and joy.  It made me think of my grandmother.  The Voting Rights Act, that was 1965.  My grandmother was 48 years old before it was legal for her to vote.  Before she was considered enough of a human being, an equal, for her vote to count.  My grandfather was 45.

When I was young they used to tell me something I didn’t really understand at the time about a few of the really nice white families and friends.  They would come around to the black neighborhoods like Turner Station and encourage people to vote.  Here’s the part I didn’t understand.  I think there may have been a poll tax.  In other words, certain places made you pay if you wanted to vote.  It was another way to discourage black people and poor people from voting.

My grandfather said that they would walk to the polling location and when they got back home someone, they never knew who exactly, had left money under the doormat covering the cost of the poll tax.  My grandmother is 90 years old.  God, I wish my grandfather and his brother could have seen this.  I’m glad my grandmother did.  My middle nephew, Kyle — he’s 10 — is excited about Barack Obama because they have the same birthday.  I mean, aside from the monument of the occasion.

And by the way, it’s not just about race.  It’s about youthfulness and what that implies.  None of the Cold War baggage, no Manifest Destiny mentality, no idyllic Reagan worship.

How awesome is it to have an intelligent, cool, even-handed, thoughtful, unflappable President Elect?  Respectable, in other words.  A President that we can be proud of (even when times get rough and our ills aren’t magically cured) and that the world is happy and excited about.

That’s amazing.  It’s absolutely amazing.

Wednesday morning

I was standing on the King St. platform waiting for the blue line train.  I saw an old, thin white man, probably in his 70’s.  He was wearing casual athletic gear and he was wearing an Obama/Biden baseball cap.  He looked at me, pointed to his hat and said, “We did it!  Isn’t that something?”  And he pumped his fist.

Ever phlegmatic, I said, “Yeh, it’s amazing.”

He clapped me on the shoulder and we stepped on to the train.

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