I know I've said in the past that politics will not be a frequent topic of discussion here at the CKT, and I don't see that changing too drastically anytime soon, but given the enormity of last night's events, I did want to share a few thoughts (of course the fact that I do have thoughts to share makes that easier).
Disclosure first: I'm a registered independent, but generally liberal in my values, and I voted for Barack Obama.
Upon hearing the official news last night that Obama had won the presidency, honestly, I felt weird. The guy I had voted for and who I felt would be the best choice of the two available to be our next president had won and everybody was going crazy. Yet I wasn't over the moon excited. Truth be told, I felt nervous, almost uneasy. My thoughts were along the lines of, "Everybody is celebrating because we have elected our first black president, because the democrats are back in power after eight years...but will it make a difference? Will this just be a historic moment that ultimately doesn't change the fate of our country?"
All through this election I saw Obama as certainly a better choice than John McCain and as a candidate who seemed qualified enough, but I never felt any real magic. The debates just seemed like two guys talking in circles. I didn't have that moment where it all clicked and I knew everything was going to be ok if only we elected one candidate or the other. This carried into last night and as the celebration began around me, I felt oddly empty.
Then came the speeches.
First, John McCain delivered his concession speech. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was moved by McCain's words (if not his audience). Unlike the other concession speeches from past elections that I barely remembered, this one felt important. It was classy and dignified; McCain acquitted himself well. I was reminded that this was not a bad man, and that before the last 12 months, he seemed like a reasonable choice to be president. Somewhere along the way, it felt like he lost the real John McCain, but last night, I think he returned. But more importantly than that, I was moved by the confidence McCain demonstrated towards the man he had just lost to and the support he pledged him. It seemed genuine and dedicated and me stop and think, "Wow, if John McCain believes Barack Obama will be a good president, that's really something."
But of course it was Obama's acceptance speech that was the real main event of the evening. And for me, it was where the magic finally happened.
While McCain's words moved me, Obama's inspired me. I felt like for the first time I saw what those around me saw about what made this man so special. His poise was incredible. His words perfectly selected and delivered. I commented to Megan as we watched that I felt like for the first time in 16 years, I felt like a responsible adult was running our country. I mean, I thought Bill Clinton was great, but he always seemed like a cool uncle; and don't get me started on the other guy. Barack Obama felt like the real deal.
Listening to Obama speak and seeing the reaction he elicited from his supporters, so many not much older or indeed younger than me, was a sight to behold. My father mentioned to me when we spoke today that he hasn't seen young people so inspired by a president since John F. Kennedy. But on the other hand, an experienced and respected veteran like John McCain also expressed his support. That was the magic. Barack Obama may be inexperienced, untested, etc., but what he brings to the table is that he inspires the young and the old. People believe in him. They are willing to follow him. They trust him. And after last night, so do I.
One man isn't going to save this country. It's going to take Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, the young and the old. We must be a house united, and I believe Barack Obama can build that house.
After Obama's speech ended, my emptiness was gone and filled with a sense of pride and faith in this country I haven't bothered to feel in sometime. With those feelings came the appreciation of the historical moment. That we have elected a black president is a truly remarkable, amazing and long overdue accomplishment; but that we have elected a president who could be great, who can bring this country together, is what we should be celebrating.
It was a longer road for me than some, but I'm glad I walked it, and happy to be here.