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.
Previous post: And You Thought Lincoln Was Dangerous