Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Hail to the chief!
I haven't been able to stop crying since Tuesday. They're the first tears I've shed since 9/11, but these are tears of joy.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men and women are created equal.
Finally, after 232 years, the American people have redeemed that pledge. Is this the greatest country in the world or what?
I'm old enough to remember drinking fountains labeled "white" and "colored" and American citizens being killed for the crime of attempting to vote.
Now they are not only voting, an African American has been elected to the highest office in the land.
But he's not just anyone. Our new president is the best we've got. He is wise and brave and good and smart. After 16 years of Baby Boomer presidents, it'll be nice to have a grownup in the White House again.
I feel like I've finally wakened from a nightmare that’s been going on for 40 years.
I watched my country being torn apart by meaningless culture wars while the real problems were left to fester year after year, decade after decade.
But now I have my country back. I mean the country as it was taught to me in high school civics class - a nation where all people are treated equally and the whole world looks to America as (to use Lincoln's words) "the last, best hope of man."
What happened on Tuesday wasn't a victory of party. It was the victory of a new generation of Americans who are sick and tired of what my generation, the Baby Boomers, have done to this country.
They've had it with our narcissism, our self-righteousness and our arrogance.
However respectfully they treat us (as they always do), make no mistake: We have firmly been given the heave-ho. There will never be another Boomer president. And the days of our zero-sum, I-win-you-lose politics are over.
That's why Democrats who are lusting for revenge after eight years in the wilderness are going to be sorely disappointed. The last thing Obama wants to do is replace a bunch of right-wing ideologues with a bunch of left-wing ideologues.
Instead, we're about to have a government of national unity, with prominent members of the opposition in key cabinet positions.
That's what JFK did after his paper-thin victory over Nixon in 1960, and what FDR did after Pearl Harbor. And it's what Bush should have done in 2000 after the Bush v. Gore fiasco, and in 2001 after 9/11.
I'm glad Obama's victory was so decisive because now he'll be able to reach out to the Republicans without it being interpreted as weakness. It will be seen for what it is: a magnanimous gesture.
He understands that somebody has to call a halt to the tit-for-tat that has crippled our politics for so long.
He also understands that his true base isn't racial or ideological, it's generational. He has to answer to the millions of young people who flocked to his standard.
They are the true victors. They consider it their patriotic duty to lay aside all the old differences that have divided us for decades and work together for the common good.
They are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of our decisions, so I'm glad they're getting the president they want. They deserve it.
It won't be easy. We have just handed him a set of problems more daunting than any president has faced since FDR.
But I think he's up to it. And so are we.
As Winston Churchill said during the gloomiest days of World War II, "These are not dark days: They are great days - the greatest days our country has ever lived. And we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race."