Friday, November 07, 2008

Election Reflection

Did I dream it, or did what I see really just happen? The citizens of the United States not only elected the first African-American president, but Barack Obama's race seemed only a peripheral issue at best. This nation just decided to return to excellence and voted for the most capable candidate. The old smear and fear politics did not work this time, young voters came out in record numbers, people withstood multiple hour waits to cast their votes, and there was jubilation in the streets of major cities in this country, and all over the world. I must be dreaming.

We had the political equivalent of a Super Bowl party here. My friend Dave the Dog drove in from Nashville, as he did in 1992 for the Clinton election, Larry took his customary spot, Melody put out hors' doevres, but I held my breath until 10:00. Even when Pennsylvania went to Obama, I had seen too many voodoo elections to ever get comfortable. When the West was declared, we jumped up and down and yelled and cried, but the spectacle in Grant Park was breathtaking. The symbolism in Obama's historic run kept grabbing me; He began his campaign in Illinois, on the court house steps where Lincoln stood, and he ended it in Manassas, Va, where the documents ending the Civil War were signed. Then he held his victory celebration in the very spot where young anti-war demonstrators were beaten and maced exactly forty years ago. The tears of the greying eminence, Jesse Jackson, spoke more eloquently to the moment than any words, and every citizen, regardless of party, should take a measure of pride in this fulfillment of America's promise.

John McCain ended his quest on an honorable note, with a more than gracious concession speech, that I'm certain reminded more people than just me of the genuine man that he used to be. But that was before he handed his campaign over to the former Bush/Rove operatives, just to let them screw up one last thing before they leave town. In half the McCain rallies that I saw, I thought he was doing a Walter Brennan, "Grandpappy Amos" impression. "Hehhh?" Dirty tricks backfired on Elizabeth "Sugar Lips" Dole as well, and MSNBC reported that for the first time since 1952, a Bush or a Dole will not be on Capitol Hill. Just a little icing for us. To see Obama win North Carolina, Indiana, and especially Virginia, where Robert E. Lee is still worshipped and revered, was simply astounding. I believe this election gave birth to a new electorate which will not revert to the old game of the selling of the president, and we picked the right man that we need for these perilous times.

Even in my little blue corner of a solid red state, people have seemed nicer the last couple of days and I detected a general feeling of, "Things will be better now." We have chosen the candidate that offers the best chance for change, but now the real work begins. Bush/McCain voters will find that Democrats are more gracious in victory than the Republicans could ever imagine, so there will no payback or purges (save Israel's favorite Senator, Joe Lieberman, who has it coming), or "Revolutions" like the GOP Congress attempted in 1994. I only ask of Republicans the same civility and neutrality that I tried to adopt when George Bush was first elected, before he lied this nation into the invasion and occupation of Iraq. So, before the Limbaughs of this world attempt to dismember him, I hope the new president will be given the chance to implement his programs without the same whiplash resistance we have seen in the past.

My initial election night joy was sobered by Obama's magnificent speech concerning the magnitude of the problems we face as a nation, until the emotion I can best describe about this entire ordeal for me, is relief. For those with ears to hear, Obama referenced both Dr. King and Sam Cooke, but broadened the context. I'm happy to be alive to witness the ascension of an African-American to this nations' highest office, but I was so uncertain that it could really happen that I continued to see the dark cloud behind the silver lining. When the moment actually arrived, I, probably like you, thought of a lot of people who would loved to have seen this day. Now, I feel as if I'm undergoing whatever is the male equivalent of post-partem depression. We did this improbable thing, so now what? I trust this good man and his advisers to chart a new course for the nation, freed from the same political battles that have raged for the past thirty years, but I don't trust a recalcitrant congressional minority who's purpose is to thwart and block the new president's agenda.

Obama's victory must also be seen in the light of the 48% of the public that voted for John McCain. They had their reasons, but in light of the brutal recriminations coming from the McCain camp directed at Sarah Palin, I believe we dodged a bullet. And it is troubling that otherwise rational people would even consider placing the government in the control of this cartoonish and inept person. Almost half the country bought that bullshit, when it has been proven in this week's "Newsweek," that Palin is definitely not smarter than a 5th grader, and was ignorant about even the most commonplace facts of geography. Worse still, she took an arrogant pride in her stupidity in favor of "Wasilla Main Street values." If the right-wing Evangelicals want to make her into the future of the GOP, "bring 'em on." Meanwhile, we have a very capable man about to assume the office of President, who was put there by the most committed group of voters I have ever witnessed. So, may I just say, "God bless us, every one," and please diligently protect the Obamas.

16 comments:

jane said...

Randy,
This is truly a great moment.....we both lived through the 60's (barely), and made into the light of a new century. I'm so grateful to have been able to witness this astounding moment in our history, and to see that light shining on Barak Obama. As a former Hilary supporter, I have been truly moved by this amazing man. His strength of character, and calm demeanor is desperately needed in these days of chaos......we said "yes we can", and we did!!!!!
By the way, although Obama lost Tennessee (no shock), he did win Davidson County....there's a plus for Nashville.....yikes, I'm actually surrounded by
intelligent, thinking humans in a sea of mindless, conservatism.
God Bless Barak Obama, God Bless America and God Bless us all!!!!!!
Jane

J said...

One can revere Robert E. Lee, as I do, and have voted for Barak Obama, as I did.

Anonymous said...

Randy, this is one beautiful piece you did on the election which will once again put America back in its rightful place....and let the bigots of life see that blacks can do far more than windows and floors. Obama has been and will continue to be a great inspiration for people everywhere.

Thank you, young man!

jill said...

Well said. You should be getting paid for this!

bill said...

I actually had a very Republican friend call me last night to say he was going out to buy a magazine on the shelves about the monumental election and asked if I wanted him to get me one. This guy and I had such arguments about Bush that I was floored by the call. A brighter day awaits us all.

Anonymous said...

The positive energy in your column and the comments posted are wonderful. I am very happy with the results of the election, but at the same time, am worried. I believe in our new President, but have a lot of misgivings about the government of which he is about to take the reins. There is so much to fix that it boggles the mind. Nevertheless, if anybody can do it, he can.

Joel

Pat Rohrbacher said...

The worst is over it would seem, now let the healing begin. Though the healing must contain more than an ounce of "anti smugness" as it were.
I refer to the dehumanizing of Mrs. Palin past and present, that allowed for party politic scorn to be piled on top of anti republican disgust at her Alaska doorstep. Randy's Newsweek reference is todays example...the data was very predictable and vilifys the Alaska constituancy that elected her to govern. As though those poor dopes up in Alaska have trouble putting on their pants correctly, not to mention cabable of making important decisions.
Even today, there is little to no respect from the democratic camp for the people of Alaska's choice for governor. This is not healing, this was/is a Dukakis/Quale/Kerry style payback at it's worst. Not to mention the certain hatchet job during the campagain.

Yes 48% voted that way, that was very real, and scary for some (imho the "scary" word is way over used this year). Not everyone has an old Kerry Edwards bumper sticker on their car.
The question is do you intellectually respect the right of others to disagree with your candidate choice, or did/do we stoop to de-humanization as a method to claim the moral and "intellectual" high ground to bolster a self defined belief on what is Right or Correct for yourself that you in turn, project to the country as a whole?
That is the problem in politics today. Crazy Liberal Left or Neo-Conservative right, neither pole is centered, but the fact is we know and love people who fit these descriptions. they are people. No amount of name calling will change the fact they are uncle Joe, or sister Jane. Do we rip them down and marginalize them on the political altar too? Of course not, we still have to have Thanksgiving with them. The marginalization is a lot simplier to do when we don't "them". I excuse the heat of the Battle, not the post war reflection, that continues to divide.
btw This big sword cuts both ways, the same points are made for sore losers whom refer to the President elect using racial overtones. Everything I have pointed out Can have Obama's name substituted for Palin. The point to be: Obama's election is a time for us to grow up a bit. The time has come for us to judge people by the content of their character, and respect their human contribution to this world, whether we are smater than them or not. The intellectuals of the world produce ideas, the workers of the world produce things. Is one better or more necessary than another? When it comes down to it, we can not eat or heat with ideas, that takes regular joes (some from alaska mind you..) to skip being pontificators and instead work mindlessly with their hands.
Let the Healing begin.
Pat

Anonymous said...

Now that Socialism is here, when do I get my free stuff?

Anonymous said...

"Free Stuff Socialism', get your head adjusted, you've been eating too many sour grapes. The President Elect never promised anybody a free ride. Its gonna get worse before it gets better, thats the legacy he inherited. So tighten it up and get with reality.

By the way, go see an Opthamologist, not only do have no taste, its quite evident your color blind. Bury that that hatchett and get with the program.

We're moving on!

Emily said...

For those of us who love the spoken word, and the art of interpreting with meaning and clarity... For those of us who believe in metaphor and the poetry of layered thought, of the carefully crafted context, and of the nuanced, complex point of view.... we have elected someone who honors and understands the circle of communication. It will be a great privilege to listen---- to just trust and listen. And as you said, Randy.... what a relief.

Thanks Mr. Radiant. lots of love, Emily G. Zacharias

davethedog said...

"The Whole World is Watching", Again!

YES WE DID !!!

As for the "free stuff" that anonymous wants. Go out of your driveway and drive on the road that was paid for by other's tax dollars. Call the Police and Fire Dept. that was paid for by other's tax dollars. Feel free to use any government services that were paid for by other's tax dollars.

The name calling of "socialism" is misleading and ridiculous. We ARE a democratic socialist government to a certain degree because we choose to pool our resources (taxes) and let our elected government spend this money for the common good. The cry of "foul" comes with how this money is spent.

For example, I have paid and continue to pay taxes to support the school system. I sent my children to private school, but this isn't an excuse for me not to pay. We need to focus not only on what we use, but on what others need, who are not so fortunate.

I will be pushing health care. Setting aside the issue of waste and fraud, my generation will be needing this more and more. It is more expensive also because there are more treatments and medicines. I will pay more taxes for this, even though I have enough money to cover myself.

C'mon people, smile on your Brother. . . . .

brother bill said...

randy

I had a sense some days before the election that Senator Obama would be elected president. Each time a realization came to me there was antcipation of the joy and celebration that would come at that moment when Obama/Biden were announced as victors. My anticipation was of unbelievable delight at being present the moment "hell froze over", of the sheer wonderfulness at being present when what could never happen happened, and that in that moment so much could be reconciled. I thank god and the Obamas and all who worked with and for them and for every person who had the humility and faith to stay alive and hope that at least here, if not everywhere, a life of hope and excellence and service would not be limited for any reason.

My entire life (72 years) has been spent in or near to Memphis, Tennessee, and within an hour of where each of my great grandparents is buried. I love where I live and the people (mostly) who live here. Always I thought that because my ancestors were white, the enfranchisement of black people would be removing a burden from them and they would come to share something I already possessed. But last night in the midst of the celebration (my wife Susan and I) the knowledge that some great burden that was on me had also lifted.

There is no way to adequately express my gratitude for that. So I say to President-Elect Barack Obama and to all who hoped for him to become President thank you! From the bottom of my heart thank you!

will reed

big sky country said...

Now don't all ya'll assholes feel like jerks for being so unkind to Sputnik, who had it right all along? Funny how that works, but knowing him he will forgive and move on to the brighter day we have all been waiting for. Right on my brother.Peace and Love (what a concept huh?)

kwk said...

One cannot even comment on this, other than to hope it is a joke:

You can't vote for Bush?.

Father Farken said...

Me friend Emily wrote...
"Hope" is the thing with feathers- That perches in the soul-
& sings the tune without the words-
And never stops at all. (Dickinson)
For the Republicans, Libertarians & Independants & others who feel they have just been plucked like a Christmas turkey ...of all feathers & hope of the American Dream! I lift you up to the Lord! Your life has opened up to so many new possibilities...like ...waiting in lines & goosestepping!..... I KID!
But as my good friend Sally Patton sez It feels so good waking up to a brand new America. President -elect Obama will not rule over you. He will serve you well as your president! You are growing feathers in this very moment. Never give up! Never lose hope! As a little shithead from the midwest once said...THIS IS OUR COUNTRY! May God bless you & may God bless America!

Anonymous said...

Israels favorite Senator? Purge?Maybe you prefer Rashid Khalidi, the one-time PLO spokesman/adviser to Barack Obama. I am not sorry to see Bush go, but the gush over Obama? Please, give me a break. This guys honeymoon will be over by March 2009. If you think this guy is teh messiah, you have another thing coming. he is just a charismatic guy that we have not fully come to know.