Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dissent and Progress

It’s a brighter day. America has come out of a sordid hibernation; the visceral cold-shoulder-to-the-world era has been abruptly halted. And it feels so good.

It feels so good because I remember four and eight years ago being so afraid of a long-term conservative reign. Never did any liberal or conservative ever predict then that GWB would drive the Republican Party so far into the depths of political hell. Nor could they have ever dreamed of the history that would be created post-Bush. I must note that the president-elect’s ability and opportunity to rise up the ranks of American politics is due in large part to the 42nd President, William Jefferson Clinton. His wife certainly helped him out too.

I saw his speech, President-elect Barack Obama’s, in 2004 as the keynote at the Convention in ’04. It was good. Today we see that same person, but he has evolved terrifically. Darwin would be proud. Barack today is a man who foresees opportunity, an individual who projects and comprehends American ideals, morals, and philosophies. Home grown and culturally exposed, local yet global, he is a true American.

I am proud to be an American again. For the first time in my politically involved life, last night (4-11-08) was the first series of elections or political events where W never crossed my mind; he has but not even three months to rule. When Obama won, it was as if a weight was lifted off my American shoulders. Friends and family agreed without even realizing it.

To add even more to the significance of this tremendously historic victory, the new President will be handed a strikingly blue Congress. This will allow him to move forward with a progressive agenda and new vision for a 21st century America. This country could not have asked for more. Nor could it have delivered a more precise message. Well, maybe 60 seats…but I’ll settle for the 57 I think we’re going to end up with in the Senate.

Tuesday’s election buried a number of previously engrained political ideals: Rovian style campaigns and 527-group domination; the argument that white folk from PA, NC, or IN wouldn’t vote for a person of color; the Bradley effect has vanished; and finally, dissent can no longer be considered unpatriotic. Dissent has always been the utmost of patriotic acts, and we are ending an era that lambasted and squelched it.

What lies ahead is no row on the lake. Nor should it be a Battle of the Bulge. But American’s must be willing to step up to the plate we’ve put before us. The plate is utterly American: burgers and arugula, fried chicken with a delicate porcini mushroom glaze, Coors Light and peanuts, Pinot Noir and smoked gouda. But this plate will also require us to sacrifice. The real kind (not the pseudo bullshit W asked us for) will be necessary: from living lighter and greener to considering your neighbor’s fate as well as yours. Together, America can be great again.

We have seen darker days. With determination, Obama can lead us out of this dim era, where divisiveness and wedge issues have destroyed the American dream and psyche. Every step of the way he will be faced with right wing harbingers, radical proclamations, and threats from afar. America will persevere; we have no other option.

On a personal note, I have the great pleasure of being a resident of Harlem in Upper Manhattan. It is an incredibly historic region that has been in flux time and time again. But at the turn of the 20th Century, it became a beacon of African American culture, and it’s status icon holds true—though it is slowing waning—today. To spend last night in Harlem at my apartment and then storm up to 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell was surreal. Basking in the glow and celebrating the great, great victory with a famous community, one directly affiliated with the historic event, is something I will talk of thirty and forty years from now; no doubt I’ll note it on my deathbed. The barrage of excitement, tears, and jubilation were overwhelming.

It was euphoric oblivion.

The democratic process shined beautifully last night. This election rebooted confidence in the American electorate and people around the world. Color still matters, but we have taken a great leap. We have found a catalyst. Let us use and exploit it in the best of ways and for the greatest of causes.

As for the Senator from Arizona, who could have fought a much more valiant race: Kudos to him. His concession speech was conciliatory and deferent. Had he run a campaign like that, he would have perhaps held a different title today. And as for the Governor of Alaska: She’s back to glaring at Russia through binoculars and is enjoying her new hobby of hunting Nieman Marcus employees for Valentino and Chanel blazers.

I thank you from the bottom of my little liberal heart, America. And I didn’t even mention the Supreme Court’s new future.

Light shines again, and I’ve got my sunscreen on.

Good night and most certainly, good luck.