I stayed up last night to watch history. I couldn’t stand watching the pundit chatter, so I kept checking in and out. We watched the Clinton/Dole-Kang/Kodos episode of the Simpsons, watched some more returns, and then watched an episode of the Office. Then when I clicked back to check the results I heard a commentator say “President Elect Barack Obama.” It took a minute to confirm it, to see the map and the huge electoral lead. But it was over.
America had just elected its first black president.
From there we stayed up to watch history, seeing McCain’s gracious acceptance speech and then watching the crowds in Grant Park as a visibly tired and emotional Barack Obama came out to address the crowd. The images of the first black president are powerful and moving. No matter your politics, this is an intense moment for our country, our world, our generation and our children.
- You could see it in the tears of supporters gathered in Grant Park.
- In the drumming and chanting in Harlem.
- And in the dancing in the streets in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis.
There is a palpable excitement in the air like I’ve never seen before. Granted that has a lot to do with the fact that my guy won, but I think this is categorically different, both because I actually like this candidate (I can’t imagine dancing in the streets for any previous presidential wins in recent memory) and because of the historic nature of this win. And I’m clearly not alone in that first point.
But for all the jubilation, there is a lot of work to do. There are enormous expectations on Obama and it would be hard for anyone to live up to all of them. I’m eager to see how he proves himself and if he can live up to his promises to bring change to our caustic political climate. I’m eager to see if he can prove his detractors wrong, if at the very least he can gain their respect if not their support. In short, I’m eager to see if he can live up to the hype.
In the end Barack Obama is just a man. He needs prayer and support, counsel and wisdom.
And in the end this is just one moment in history. It is preceded by innumerable moments that won’t make it in the history books, but without which this moment could not have happened. It is only by concentrating on those many small steps, persevering in each day, that we can ever hope to bring about the change we seek.