Hope

Congratulations are due to President-elect Obama and his supporters on a well earned and historic victory.

Senator McCain hit the nail on the head:

…his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving…

President-elect Obama’s victory speech in Grant Park was another example of his oratorical mastery. If he meant the things he said, there is, indeed, much to be hopeful for. (Pardon the note of cynicism in that, but I still remember a past President’s pledge not to raise taxes. It’s never certain what a politician really believes.)

He returned to the themes of his New Hampshire speech, the themes of American exceptionalism:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer…
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world–our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down–we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright–tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

Barack Obama and John McCain

Barack Obama and John McCain

If President-elect Obama believes those things, and, more importantly, if he can convince the Democratic Congress to act as if they believe them, he could well be much more than just a great speaker.

A message to his supporters on the Obama campaign website says this:

You proved that change can happen. You built an unprecedented grassroots organization in all 50 states that brought a record number of people into the political process — many for the first time, many for the first time in a long time.

Now, the $600 million spent on the Obama campaign was not, could not be, completely funded by small grass roots donors, but the effort that transformed his long shot candidacy in less than two years to defeat one of the most powerful and ruthless political machines of modern times was a testament to grassroots organizing, to the best in American politics.

The campaign is over and while there will be much to debate and disagree with in terms of policy, in January the new President should have our support. Rather than hissing and booing like ill-mannered reprobates at the mention of the name of the next leader of the free world, we should join Senator McCain in “offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.”

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