At 11:15 CNN called it – Barak Obama would become the 44th President of the United States.
I really hated not being with someone to share this historic election night. I had CNN on in my hotel room, and had hourly conversations with Laura, who was watching the same returns projected onto the wall with our LCD projector. Both of us felt confident of the outcome, but regardless of who won, the results were going to be historic.
I’ve already stated that I voted for Obama, and I did so for a variety of reasons. What I didn’t say was that I really like McCain – as a senator. He has been willing to reach across the aisle to build concensus and get things done, often at the risk of disapproval from his own party and constituents. That takes real political courage. In other circumstances I probably would have been satisfied with him as president (apart from his war stance.) McCain’s concession speech was gracious, and reflected the best of what he had the potential to be before this nasty campaign subverted his message.
However, this election was never about McCain. In a sense, he was a non-entity. People were either voting for or against Obama. To try to overcome this, McCain tapped Palin to generate interest and historic potential for his own campaign. I believe that completely backfired, as she was nowhere near up to the job, and that became apparent very quickly with the few actual news interviews she did, all SNL parodies aside. I know that those who were energized by her would wish a larger political role in the future, but I’m afraid she will bear the brunt of the blame for McCain’s loss, and will be relegated by her own party to some backwater. Does anyone remember Ferraro?
It’s one thing to disagree with a candidate’s positions on tax, the war, illegal immigration, etc. It’s another to completely villify someone just because they have a funny name, or because you don’t like the way they look. I couldn’t believe how utterly stupid some people were to perpetuate the stories that A) Obama is a Muslim, B) Obama hates America C) Obama is a terrorist. These people would have hated him regardless of anything he did. No amount of truth or attempt to dispell the lies would have worked.
Unfortunately, it was this base of stupidity to which the McCain campaign ultimately appealed. The phrase “pals around with” was tossed around by Palin to impart guilt by association, while ignoring her own dubious connections. Fortunately for this election, Obama’s constant positive message overrode those negative attacks. However, deep divisions obviously remain. Obama has lots of work to do.
And so it is a new day, and for most of America there is a hopefulness and energy that that hasn’t been felt in quite awhile. It is my hope that this energy is contagious, and that even those who didn’t vote for Obama will work for positive change in our country.
At least the campaign is over. I’ll leave politics alone for awhile.