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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ring Them Them Bells: Change has come

Ring them bells, ye heathen,

From the city that dreams,
Ring them bells from the sanctuaries,
Cross the valleys and streams.

It’s hard to be disgruntled when everyone around you is so happy. And November 4 was unquestionably a day that brought immense joy to millions of Americas.

Whether you were among the 64,058,826 people who voted for Barack Obama, or one of the 56,500,053 who voted for John McCain, at exactly 11:01 West Coast time the mood of a country changed. For a brief, fleeting moment, we were neither Republicans nor Democrats. Conservative nor Liberal. Right nor Left. Ideology evaporated, labels disappeared, color was washed away.

The whole world was watching. And what they saw was something uniquely American. The singular, defining quality that distinguishes America from every other country in the world: ‘redemption’.

The election of Barack Obama as the first African American president didn’t eradicate the racial injustices embedded in our nation’s DNA some 240 years ago. But it did emancipate us by from the past in some communal, collective way. And African Americans weren't the only ones who felt the lifting of the shackles. We all felt the weight lift. We all experienced that moment together.

Traditionally, these moments of collective consciousness are reserved to see us through the dark times that have befallen our nation—Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans, 9/11.

This was different. This was a moment in which we were bound together by hope and optimism, rather than brought together by horror and despair.

The closest thing this nation has come to the transformational moment we experienced Tuesday night was the defeat of the Nazis in World World II. But even that wasn’t really the same.

Yes, the chimes of freedom rang around the world, but the freedom America fought for was a deferred freedom. It would take another 60 years, and another generation, before the true tenets of freedom were extended to every American.

The headlines told the tale. And the tale didn’t need elaboration. Like all pivotal moments in history, the story could be reduced to three simple words:

To see over 700 front pages from November 5, 2008, click here.

The elevation of a black man to the presidency in this year, on this date, at this moment in our nation’s history could not have happened at any other time. Barack Obama was simply born at the right time. Born into a broken world desperately in need of being fixed.

For the last eight years, decisive, destructive partisanship has torn at the fabric of this country. On November 3, 2008, we were a nation of broken idols, broken treaties, broken vows, broken laws, broken words that should never have been spoken. On November 4, we were something else.

And while the man charged with picking up those pieces will inevitably be labeled by his detractors as a ‘empty vessel,’ a ‘blank slate,’ a ‘complete unknown,’ perhaps we can take solace in this simple fact: what better place to put all these broken pieces than in a vessel large enough to hold the limitless hope for a future that, for the first time in our nation’s history, truly feels like it can benefit every American.

Oh the lines are long,
And the fighting is strong,
And they're breaking down the distance,
Between right and wrong.
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Anonymous said...

Very nicely put.
Best wishes from Spain,

Anonymous said...

While I admire your boundless optimism, please remember, 47% of "us" didn't vote for your "savior." I think you're being a little liberal (pun intended) with your uses of "us", "all", "we", etc. Surely, some (hopefully) large portion of the 47% acknowledge and appreciate the enormous step taken in electing a black man to the presidency, but I don't think many (hopefully) were voting against him based on his race in the first place. For whatever combination of valid and invalid reasons, nearly half the nation did not think he was the right man for the job. All I'm saying is, just because you and your ilk were all crying, dancing, and hugging after the election does not mean that all of "us" feel that he will be uniting the nation. For my part, I will support him until he gives me a reason not to, as I have after each election, regardless of whether or not my candidate of choice won the office. But a cautionary note to the liberal media: tone down the "savior-speak."

redkim said...

I didn't vote for Obama. However, I knew that on Wednesday, Nov. 5th, no matter who was in the White House, Americans could wake up a little prouder that day. We would either have a woman or a black man in the White House. Regardless of their politics, these were history-making times.

I don't think Obama is bringing about much change other than the color of his skin. I hope he does, though, and I hope he is a great President. But he is part of the Democratic Chicago machine, and so this does not bode well for me.