The doorway is open...
Here stands history, waiting for us to catch up.
I haven't written since the election.
Which me would show up here? Would the pissed-off version of me, still not okay with what I saw as unforgivable tactics from the Republicans, gloat in victory? Or could I let that passion wear off?
Things are better now. I feel, mostly, a sense of relief that the whole process is over.
This was a painful and emotional election campaign, and despite Obama's monumental victory, which came with an uncommonly wide margin both in popular and electoral votes, we still live in a bitterly divided country.
Optimistic as I am about President-Elect Barack Obama--and it still feels nice to type that--I am also conscious that this isn't an overwhelming victory for the left.
Look at how much went wrong on Election Day. Creepy, discriminatory anti-gay marriage propositions passed in three states. Republican senator Ted Stevens, convicted on seven felony counts by a federal grand jury, may win re-election in Alaska. Al Franken, one of the more progressive people running for Senate, is hoping to win by recount after garnering fewer than 45% of Minnesota's popular vote in the election. Darcy Burner, running for Congress in a swing district in Washington that went 60% for Obama, lost another close race to Dave Reichert.
It seems to me that Obama's overwhelming victory came because he was seen as a moderate option to the failed policies of the Bush era, which, like it or not, stuck like Superglue to John McCain. That so many people were able to get past prejudice and vote for a black man is great; that so many people were not is pathetic.
Remember the "Reagan Democrats" that pushed old Ron-Ron into office for two terms in the 1980s? People were sick of the perceived weakness of Jimmy Carter--who, as it turns out, has been perhaps the greatest ex-president we've ever had--and were glad to cross party lines and vote for someone they felt at least to be likable. (Some of my best friends voted for Reagan, at least in 1980. I don't pretend to understand it.)
We can similarly define "Obama Republicans" as people who would have voted for a reasonable candidate from the right had one been available. Including Sarah Palin on the ticket proved a polarizing choice, and I think that even if it energized the conservative base of the Republican party, the furor around Ms. Palin distracted John McCain's message from getting through. Not that his message was clear or well-expressed anyway.
So while I'm glad that Obama is our president--very glad--I am also conscious that the next four years are going to be full of anger, mistrust, lies, and outright racism from some of the 57 million people who voted for John McCain.
What the rest of us need to do is respond not with barbs but with strength and vision. It's our chance now. We hoped for this opportunity, so now we have to lead.
The first thing I'm doing is really trying to think of new ways to save energy around our place. My 12-year-old nephew reminded me last week that when you're away for a period of time, you should pull plugs from their outlets to save energy. It's not a big step, but it's a step. What ideas do you have to help make change on a daily basis?
The song I chose for this post is one of my all-time favorites, and applies to how I feel about America. Big Star's first album, #1 Record, is full of great acoustic songs, and "Give Me Another Chance" hits home every time I consider my own anger and the human capacity for forgiveness. It's one of the few songs that can make me tear up every time I hear it.
I want another chance. Let's fix America.