Virginia is for Obama (Proud to be a Virginian – 11:07pm)

Abraham_obama  Yeswecan

(artist – Ron English)

 
The exit polls are very revealing.  I was surprised by the split when it came to income brackets.  People making less than $50,000 went with Obama, but even in the higher brackets McCain failed to capitalize on the socialist rhetoric.  It's comforting to know that Americans were not so easily duped by this language.  I wonder what this means for "Joe the Plumber" recording career?  Ten-percent of the electorate who took part in yesterday's election voted for the first time.  I spoke with an employee in our cafeteria who must be in her 60s and who had never voted before.  She went to the polls with her entire family and I can't wait to talk to her about the experience.  Some will attribute this to Obama's "star" quality, but I attribute it to the ability to inspire and rally.  And isn't this what we want in a democracy?
 
It's already a cliche to say that this election is historic.  It was a very emotional experience watching the tears stream down the face of Jesse Jackson as well as the excitement of the young students at Spelman College.  We just finished discussing King's assassination in class yesterday and at one point I showed the class the famous photograph of the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, which included Jackson.  Congressman Lewis's commentary was also very moving.  We've been discussing Lewis's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement as well and the courage he displayed on more than one battlefield.  I am so happy for him this morning and the thousands of Americans who risked everything to combat injustice and racism.  These are the people – both black and white – who paved the way for this election. 
 
That said, if we are to appreciate Obama's claim that he represents the most "unlikely candidate" than we must look beyond race.  It is the appreciation of his overall profile, including his age, personal story, and profile that give meaning to his words.  There are two facts of his life that give me reason to be optimistic.  First, this is a man who wrote openly about drug use in his memoir as well as other mistakes of youth.  Second, his election to the position of editor of the Harvard Law Review was made possible by the support of members fo the Federalist Society.  The first example points to a certain level of opennness and honesty, while the second suggests that he will, in fact, try to be a president for all Americans.   
 
I know this sounds just a little sappy, but you know what, I don't care.  For the moment I am happy and proud of my country.

4 thoughts on “Virginia is for Obama (Proud to be a Virginian – 11:07pm)

  1. Anonymous

    I must say, I found it pertinent that the first black president, who just happens to be previously little-known lawyer from Illinois, who was labeled “dangerous” by his enemies, solidified his electoral victory with the help of the former heart of the old Confederacy, knocking down a former pillar of the Solid South. Call me sappy, but history has a way of producing great returns. Here’s to the New Old Dominion.

    - Jarret

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  2. Anonymous

    Hi Kevin,
    Compliments from Italy it’s with heartfelt satisfaction that I share your joy and may this success be an omen of a New Birth of Freedom to the World
    Giuseppe

    Reply
  3. Sherree

    Hi Kevin,

    I am proud to be an American, too. I am very proud. This is a great nation, and on November 4, 2008, we reaffirmed the greatness of America.

    Thank you for honoring Reverend Jackson in this post. I heard Reverend Jackson speak in the 1980s in Charleston, West Virginia, as I told you before, and he was truly inspirational. To see him in the crowd of men and women who listened to President-elect Obama’s historic acceptance speech, a private citizen with a small American flag in his hand and tears streaming down his face, was a deeply moving moment for me and for many others, I am sure. Reverend Jackson, who stood by Dr. King on many days, including that fatal day when Dr. King was shot, as you point out in your post, weathered many storms in the decades that followed Dr. King’s assassination–decades in which Dr. King’s dream seemed doomed to failure and any hope of true equality doomed to despair–and he deserves to be honored. Reverend Jackson did not always weather those storms gracefully, and he sometimes displayed his own prejudices and weaknesses along the way. But he always dealt with each situation honestly and humanly, and sometimes that is all that any of us can do. Congratulations Reverend Jackson and all of the men and women who worked for the equality of every member of this nation, on seeing your hard work finally come to fruition, and congratulations to all of us in America, who will now live in a more just and equitable society because of your sacrifice.

    As President-elect Obama said, we are a nation held together by a set of ideas, and even as our nation failed to live up to those ideas and the ideals they inspired over the centuries, still the core idea of freedom for all and the equality of all remained–the flame–and now that flame truly is a beacon again unto the world, held high by Lady Liberty, as a friend of mine who defected from Russia to America in the 1970s and who lived through the siege of Leningrad said as she described the Statue of Liberty to me and why SHE loved America so much: “In Russia there is not that lady!!” my friend said at the time, “She does not exist!” “What Lady?” I asked. “The Lady Liberty with the flame of freedom in her hand.”

    The question now is where do we go from here, as Dr. King famously asked in one of his essays. I think we know the answer: the only place we can go–forward. And how do we do that? By letting go of the past at last. If President elect Obama represents the future (which I firmly believe he does); then in many ways, Senator McCain represents the past, and Senator McCain is to be honored, as President elect Obama said Senator McCain is to be in his acceptance speech. For many Vietnam veterans the past was relived again this election cycle, just as it was relived by the men and women who fought so long and so hard for civil rights, and it is time now for a permanent truce to be called in the culture wars. The most memorable statement to come out of the McCain campaign may well be the statement made by a member of McCain’s staff who said that during the 1960s Senator McCain’s civil rights were denied, too, for five and one half years in a POW camp. We need to remember and respect that. The Vietnam War is another war that still has not ended for too many men, and we are hurting many of our veterans from that war, yet once again, by not honoring the sacrifice of their fellow veterans. Even though I was an early supporter of President elect Obama and my support for our new President to be only grew as the campaign advanced, I was not at all amused by the descriptions of Senator McCain’s physical appearance by some journalists. As I am sure we all know by now, but it bears repeating: Senator McCain “hobbled” around the stage during the second debate and made “strange gestures” because he was brutally tortured and never fully recovered from his injuries and cannot raise his arms high enough even to comb his own hair. For all of us who know and work with Vietnam veterans and veterans of other wars with similar disabilities, such comments are not appreciated, and for the sake of decency, we, the American public, after two election cycles in which veterans of the Vietnam War have been maligned, should demand in future elections that our veterans are treated with respect. Thank you Senator McCain for serving your country. And thank you President elect Obama for rising above hatred, division, and the weight of history itself to become the President who will finally truly be President of all Americans at this most critical time in our nation’s history.

    As we work through this transition period and await the inauguration of the man who will indeed help both the United States and the world at large make the transition into the twenty first century and its unique set of unforeseeable challenges, perhaps a quote and an anecdote from the past as related for posterity by a man Dr. King admired, Mahatma Gandhi, will be instructive:

    Nehru: Bapuji, the whole country is moving.
    Gandhi: Yes. but in what direction?

    Gandhi: An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

    Nahari: I’m going to Hell! I killed a child! I smashed his head against a wall.
    Gandhi: Why?
    Nahari: Because they killed my son! The Muslims killed my son!
    [indicates boy's height]
    Gandhi: I know a way out of Hell. Find a child, a child whose mother and father have been killed and raise him as your own.
    [indicates same height]
    Gandhi: Only be sure that he is a Muslim and that you raise him as one

    Yes we can, America. We can!

    Thanks Kevin. Have a wonderful day.

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