Last night’s results created the type of shock and awe that we can all use. Not so much shock for me, since I’ve been confident of an Obama win for about a week, but definitely awe.
I was watching the results last night with about 20 friends, and we are generally a boisterous crowd. But when Obama gave his acceptance speech, we were utterly silent. That silence was not because we wanted to hear Obama’s dulcet tones; it was because we were struck speechless by the import of the moment.
America’s first black president. Think about it. We did; in mute awe my friends and I contemplated the greatness of that achievement. None of us are black, but we all recognized how important this was. Obama’s election probably won’t solve all the country’s race problems, but it sure feels like a big step. How can you not love a country where a black man named Barack Hussein Obama can rise from modest means to become president?
Yet our awed silence transcended Obama’s race, for there was a sense that his election represented a transformation of American politics. Votes for Obama were votes against divisiveness and for unity. They were votes against dishonesty and for solutions, against paralysis and for progress. They were votes that swept aside the past eight years, years of Bush and DeLay, of crony capitalism and Terri Schiavo. We were silent because Obama’s victory justified – wait for it – the audacity of our hope, our hope for change.