Obama as a symbol of the durability of American democracy? I’ve been a supporter of the Obama presidency since somewhere around January of this year. Prior to that I didn’t believe now was the right time even though, deep down, I yearned for an America that would elect a democrat, a liberal, a young black man with a name so foreign and so easily linked to the Bush definition of terrorist that you’d have to be a masochist to even hope. But even when I didn’t think he could do it, my heart swelled at the thought.
When we elected him Tuesday night, I nearly jumped out of my skin. In one fell swoop, the American people as a whole showed me that Rovian politics is not the achilles heel of our democracy. That ties to radical activists of the ’60s, an undeniably radical period in American history, could be seen less as proof of his anti-American views and more as an indication that those times deserve an intellectual dissection that doesn’t separate the tactics of radicals from their ultimate, some would say patriotic, intent. That being “different” or “unknown” are not in themselves abjectly negative qualities in this country.
Apart from the policies put forth by Barack Obama as part of his bid for the White House, which in any election I hold highly suspect, I revere the American people this time as the true victor in this election. We showed our ability to look past the lies and tactics of 20th century politics. The seemingly unbeatable tactics of the republican “permanent majority” were defeated and my faith in our democracy was restored.
Barack Obama is now subject to all the same standards to which I held Clinton and Bush. He’s got to lead us well or he’ll lose my support and admiration. But this moment in history will always shine for me as the day the American people cured me of my cynicism and despair in the face of what was beginning to look like a permanent fascism in the form of self preservation out of fear of the unknown and blind trust in our leaders.