Wednesday, November 05, 2008
The New Generation
What a night.
Forget the historical significance of electing the Junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Hussein Obama, as the first African-American (and biracial) person as President of the United States.
Forget the litany of smears he endured (being called a "terrorist," "socialist," "communist," "elitist," you name it) and overcame. Forget the smearing of his middle name. Forget the nonstop, guilt-by-association attacks from the opposition, which didn't work in the primaries and failed in the general election.
A good, decent man was elected as President of the United States of America, by overwhelming margins and victories, and our election cycle and map has changed. An equally good, very intelligent and uncommonly decent man was elected as his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, who has overcome the horrors of life for a richly deserved victory.
Through it all, we did not allow a single state to dictate the outcome of the election. All over the nation, people came out in droves. Wow.
A new generation of Americans are proud of their country. A new generation is excited. A new generation is thrilled. A new generation will get involved in ways we haven't for decades. At least one hopes.
The scores of cheers and applause was emotional, exciting and profound. You can't fake it. Check it out yourself below. The single act of electing this man might have made substantial gains in repairing our nation's image at home and abroad.
Look at the contrast. We go from Bush to Obama. Think about it.
Has there ever been a more disastrous, reckless time in our recent history than the past 8 years? George W. Bush "wins" the 2000 election, after an unjust and pathetic voter suppression effort in Florida and refusal to fully count the votes. Months later, Bush takes the longest vacation of any sitting President, only days later for our nation to be changed with the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. He responds with the nation fully behind him, but then diverts to Iraq, a nation that never attacked us, under the calculated and false pretense of weapons of mass destruction.
The nightmare continued with the erosion of civil liberties and the presence of sheer incompetence at all levels would continue. Warrant-less wiretaps, often tapping members of the GOP opposition, were exposed and hidden under the guise of "terrorist surveillance." Federal attorneys fired in unprecedented numbers because of their personal and political beliefs, often at odds with the administration's. One disgraced member of the Administration and Congress after the other resigns or is managed out.
Spending goes out of control. The Republican Party, under their president, spends more money than any other political party in American history and bankrupts the nation to the tune of trillions and trillions. And now our nation is experiencing the worst economic crisis in several decades. In the process of all this, we lost a major city, New Orleans, after a Republican government sat on its ass for days and days while people suffered, starved and died.
Naturally, the Republicans of today blame the Democrats, ignoring their continual support of Bush's bad economic and foreign policies, and anyone who ever dared speak out against them, rationally or irrationally, was anti-America and un-American. What a disgrace.
What a spectacular presidency Bush has had. Spectacular is not a good word here. It is an honest one. Bush has been a spectacular President in the worst way possible. He is hated all over the planet, and severely disliked by many in his party. Sadly, he has truly earned this scorn.
We now have, as President-elect, a man who believes in working with people and listening to all points of view. A young, brilliant, accomplished man who previously worked on a wide variety of legislation on major issues, from ethics to nukes. A man who will piss off members of his own party if it means doing the right thing. A man who did not, as President Bush did after he "won" re-election in 2004, claim a "mandate," but reached across the broad spectrum of America.
What a sad, sorry excuse for a party the current day Republican Party is. I say this not to be gleeful or spiteful. In 2000, they had a great American run as candidate for their party's nomination for President. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), then 64 and in much better health and physical condition than he is now, was widely admired across the nation and looked to be a promising candidate for the Presidency. He deserved his party's nomination. Bush and Rove used their shameless tactics to dishonestly grab the nomination.
McCain's image did not improve in 2004 when he supported Bush for re-election. It began a long, sad, even pathetic downward spiral towards the fringe right-wing base of the Republican Party to capture the nomination eight years after he first sought it. He ran a poorly managed campaign, full of strategic blunders and the worst vice presidential selection of modern times. It was sad to see him sink to new depths and lows in the smearing of his opponent.
Last night, McCain began the long and necessary process of redeeming his image by offering the perhaps most eloquent, gracious, emotional speech of his career. It was masterful. He acknowledged the special significance of Obama's victory, pledged to work with him to solve the problems of our nation, and took full responsibility for the poor campaign he ran. It was a great, unifying moment.
Few moments in recent memory were as joyful or emotionally powerful as seeing the crowd of maybe 100,000 or 200,000-plus people in Grant Park erupt in cheers and applause when Obama was announced President-elect. Then there was Obama's typically superb victory speech, where he continued and joined in taking the high road with McCain. Absolutely marvelous.
It began as a tense night. Obama won a lot early on, but didn't flip a single red state. McCain was still in this thing. Then he wins Ohio, and then it was basically over: the West Coast, where I live, would likely go for Obama pushing him over the top. At 8:00 pm PT, it was official: Obama won.
Obama has earned this victory. He ran the most disciplined, organized, far-reaching campaign I've ever seen, though I'm young. Despite what Ralph Nader says, he's not in the pockets of the corporations. The average donation was like $106 or so, from millions of people who never before donated. The Democrats, who have widely expanded their majorities in the House and the Senate, need to immediately deliver on the promises they have failed at for several years. They have got to stop demonizing all Republicans. They must stop making excuses. They must embrace the will of the American people. They must deliver.
And my generation is pumped. We are hungry for a new leader, a potentially great leader. We have had three presidential elections for our generation, and Bush won two of them. We needed this election to be ours. We won it.
But we have to work for it. We can't expect government to do the work for us. We can't continue to simply blame our Congressmen, Senators and President when things go badly. We have to be on the phone calling or emailing them. We have to continue to volunteer, hold rallies, march, think, and be open to other points of view. We have to not treat others the way Republicans have treated us, with their Hannity-Limbaugh talking points and lies. We have to fight and win with the truth, but also be honest and hold the Democrats accountable for their failures (Bush didn't get all he got without support from them, after all).
That said, I have to take special delight in ridiculing the fat, ugly, mean, cruel, sad and pathetic excuse for a human being Karl Rove is. He, along with Dick Cheney and (to a sort of lesser extent) George W. Bush have destroyed their once-great party. People finally tired of their nonsense. Rove has failed. Let him be at FOX News forever, smearing the Democrats and liberals and progressives and independents (like me) who are long tired of his tactics. Ditto to soon-to-be-former Sen. Liddy Dole, an often despicable woman, who lost big time after smearing someone falsely for being "Godless." The GOP as we know it is deservedly in shambles.
No longer can they tell us that we "blame America first." No longer can they tell the world which parts of the nation, rural or urban, are "more American" than the rest. Those days are ending. They have lost that argument -- finally, and long overdue. We have to be better than they have been to us.
Before the night began, I had no clue if Obama would actually win. It was almost too hard to fathom seeing him win. McCain is a beloved figure in American politics and ran a vigorous race until the very end. I pledged to try and support him as best as possible, and put my Bush-hating aside, if he won.
But he didn't. The right candidate was selected. History was made. A new page has turned. The mother of all elections has come to a close.
And a defining moment for my generation has begun.