A Remarkable Day

As my colleagues would probably acknowledge, rarely do words come to me with any kind of difficulty.  And yet, here I am, struggling, my fingers hesitant over the keys on keyboard.  I am twisted with emotion and exhaustion, swelling with hope and promise, shocked at my own level of action.  After dedicating two years of my life to this one purpose, I have found so few things as difficult as finding the right words in this moment; seventy-six days from the day when Barack Hussein Obama is sworn in as the forty-fourth President of the United States.

It is an amazing thing to me.  Before my daughters graduate from high school, they will each open a history book, and somewhere in the bleached white pages will be a picture printed of a man with dark skin, an easy smile, and intelligent eyes.  In the caption underneath that picture will be “Barack Hussein Obama, the Forty-Fourth President of the United States.”  It is an amazing thing to me because of how unlikely all of this came to pass.

But it is also amazing to me because when my daughters come home from school on that day, I can tell them I was a part of that.  That I worked for that.  That I sacrificed sleep, time, even precious moments spent with them, in order to help put that picture in that book.  I did this, seemingly at the risk of my own sanity, and I did this for them.

I did it because it was symbolic, that when I look into their large brown eyes so unlike my own and tell them they can be anything they want to be as long as they work hard for it, it won’t be a lie.  But I also did it because it was not symbolic but pragmatic; because the future belongs more to them than to me, and I was doing what I felt was the most important thing I could have done to secure for them the best future possible, a future that grows opportunity for them, that will sculpt a safer, more peaceful world, a future that believes in science and the ability of humans to understand its teachings and improve themselves because of it, a future where we heal the planet instead of scar it, a future where they are free to move up the ladder of prosperity whilst not becoming a slave to those who are already perched atop it, a future that is for once filled with that simple and beautiful thing called hope.

In that history book my daughters will one day read and study, I do not know what comes in the pages after; none of us do.  Our greatest hopes tell us that those pages will be filled with the success story of a new America, and our old cynicism tells us that those pages will be filled with unexpected disappointment and mediocrity.  In the endless possibilities that could exist in those pages we reach for the stars and we stumble into our own graves and only the living of those pages will tell us which will actually come to pass.

So I don’t know what that future holds, I can only say that the days ahead of us are filled with hope, but that hope does not come without the added cost of work and struggle and a necessity for patience and understanding.

To all of those who have been a part of this remarkable journey from the beginning, I have this to say.  We must prepare ourselves for the inevitability of expectations being failed, and struggles still yet to be endured.  Life does not exist in a script, and this is far from the happily ever after; now, as they say, comes the true hard work of governance.  We must envision the future through a lens that understands that not everything we wish to pass can or will come to pass, and we must come to the understanding that we must be willing to be critic just as much as we are willing to be surrogate to the incoming Obama administration.

To all Democrats and liberals, I have this to say.  Yesterday was not an ideological mandate, this country did not in the space of four years jump from a center-right nation to a liberal nation.  We must be magnanimous in victory, but also understand what that victory is, and what the mandate of an electoral landslide actually means.  I don’t believe this was a liberal mandate; I think this was a mandate for good governance and responsibility.  I think this was the voice of America saying strongly, passionately, be just and good.  And I think this was a mandate for a new epoch in our political culture, one that values compromise over political victory, one that respects decency over the politics of personal destruction.  Yes, one can make the argument that Americans stood up and shouted, “Don’t be Republicans!” but if we listen closely, they meant “Don’t be the Republicans of the last eight years.”  Let us learn the lesson that was there to be learned since President Bush first took office; that governing this country means governing everyone, and not merely those who agree with us.

To those conservatives and Republicans who crossed the aisle and took a chance on a Democrat, I say to you thank you.  You have taken a remarkable leap of faith in a party and a candidate that can often feel like enemies.  I hope during the years to come that that faith is not betrayed.

To those conservatives and Republicans who are licking their wounds over losing in this election year, I have quite a bit to say, and none of it is laced with schadenfraude.  It is natural to grieve; we Democrats are no stranger to this.  Grieve as much as you wish as I have grieved, but never forget that this is what a democracy is about; the American people have spoken, and it is time again to be Americans.  We have an unprecedented opportunity to let this election unite us in a way that we have not been united before, but this requires your efforts as much as ours.  I will not ask you to end your criticism, indeed, I welcome it with all my heart for no true patriot blindly accepts the actions of his or her government.  But I do ask that you remember that as heatedly as we may disagree, we are all Americans, we are all trying to do what we think is in the best interest of this country we must eventually pass on to our children.

Also, many have suggested that the Republican party is headed for a time in the wilderness, yet another thing that we Democrats are familiar with.  Don’t resist it; it’s a terrible time, but one that I think will be ultimately good for the party and for conservatism.  Somewhere along the path, Republicans have lost their way, they lost the connection they once had with the American people, and the only way to go about rebuilding that public trust is to undergo a deep reflection upon what went wrong over the past eight years.  You will go through finger pointing and blaming and name calling, and in all honesty I think that this is actually a healthy thing.

I have no desire to see conservatism nor the Republican party die, as liberal as I am I recognize that in a country such as this, my party and my ideology need a counter point.

And to President Elect Barack Obama, I say this.  We as a nation have put our faith in you, a faith passed on from one generation to the next, taught to us by our fathers and mothers and handed down to our children like a cherished family heirloom.  Indeed, it is the most precious heirloom we have as Americans, that awesome power to choose those who govern us, the Great American Experiment that to this day stands as a model for nations around the globe.  You yourself once said that even running for office requires a level of conceit, that dawning realization that of all the people that live here you and you alone are the best prepared to occupy that office.  Well, Sir, you have convinced a nation that you are the best prepared to occupy the oval office, and now, over the next four years your greatest task is to not let that nation down, to not prove us wrong.

Do not forget, President Elect Obama, that your ascension to the highest office in the land was built by mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who gave time they did not have, who donated money they could not afford to give away.  Millions have given everything they have and more than they thought they ever possibly could have to see this day come, and now that it is here, you must remember that price.  Don’t forget the Republicans for Obama who did not abandon their party or their ideology, but took a chance on you anyway.  Don’t forget the wife of a soldier I saw on election day, confined to a wheel chair herself who asked me to help put her son into the van.  Don’t forget those of us who overcame lacking resources and phobias to accomplish what at times seemed unattainable.

And never forget your own words.  You will not become President of Liberal America or Conservative America, Red America or Blue America, but the United States of America.

What a remarkable day.  A skinny black man with a funny name was just elected as President of the United States, and the most remarkable thing about it wasn’t that he had a funny name or dark skin, but that despite these things, Americans still chose the man best prepared to lead us into a future that all of a sudden seems so much more bright and hopeful.

What a remarkable day I get to read about in my daughters’ history books over and over again with the same smile on my face that I have right now.

2 Responses to “A Remarkable Day”

  1. wentzr says:

    What a remarkable day indeed. It’s so amazing to stop and realize that we contributed to this huge piece of history.. that was QUITE a battle.

  2. radical_Moderate says:

    I completely agree with you Kyle. My greatest hope is that President Obama starts a trend toward Intellectualism in Government. I also hope that the Republican Party transforms itself into a Party of Ideas again instead of being the party of devisive rhetoric. And I fervently hope that the Hannitys, Michael Savages, and Limbaughs loose popularity, not by bringing back the “Fairness Doctrine,” but by a people who are trending away from the sort of one dimensional hate speak they spew.

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