On November 4th, America decided to give one of the hardest jobs in the world to this guy. There were parties. And speeches. Lots of warm fuzzies to be had.
I partied pretty hard along with everyone. (not as hard as I used to, or as hard as I would’ve liked to, but hey, I’m not in my 20s anymore right?)
But for me, it hit home on November 5th.
I shed quite a few tears that day. I felt like a member of the world community again. I felt…redeemed. LIke the US is not doomed, and …well…like this.
I wouldn’t feel like this again.
I spent a lot of time looking at those pictures four years ago. It was the only thing that gave me hope that my country had not turned its back on people like me, with my ideals, my dreams, my beliefs. It sure felt like it at the time, though.
But now, in less than a week, all that work, all that hope, all that struggle, will culminate on January 20th, Inauguration Day.
So I thought I’d post a few of the moving things people said on November 5th that I collected. Just so we don’t forget what it felt like.
“This is the fall of the Berlin Wall times ten. America is rebecoming a New World.
“On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes…”
– Rama Yade, France’s black junior minister for human rights, on French radio.
And so it came to pass that on Nov. 4, 2008, shortly after 11 p.m. Eastern time, the American Civil War ended, as a black man — Barack Hussein Obama — won enough electoral votes to become president of the United States.
A civil war that, in many ways, began at Bull Run, Virginia, on July 21, 1861, ended 147 years later via a ballot box in the very same state. For nothing more symbolically illustrated the final chapter of America’s Civil War than the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia — the state that once exalted slavery and whose secession from the Union in 1861 gave the Confederacy both strategic weight and its commanding general — voted Democratic, thus assuring that Barack Obama would become the 44th president of the United States.
…there also may have been something of a “Buffett effect” that countered the supposed “Bradley effect” — white voters telling pollsters they’d vote for Obama but then voting for the white guy. The Buffett effect was just the opposite. It was white conservatives telling the guys in the men’s grill at the country club that they were voting for John McCain, but then quietly going into the booth and voting for Obama, even though they knew it would mean higher taxes.
Why? Some did it because they sensed how inspired and hopeful their kids were about an Obama presidency, and they not only didn’t want to dash those hopes, they secretly wanted to share them. Others intuitively embraced Warren Buffett’s view that if you are rich and successful today, it is first and foremost because you were lucky enough to be born in America at this time — and never forget that.
– Thomas L. Friedman, NYTimes
“We have so many hopes and wishes that he will never be able to fulfill them,”
-Susanne Grieshaber, an art adviser in Berlin who was one of 200,000 Germans to attend a speech by President-Elect Obama there in July.
President-elect Obama thanked all of us tonight — his speech was an acknowledgment that we all had hired him with the responsibility to better our world. He humbly accepted our mandate, both with a profound sense of history and a compassionate appreciation that we and he have changed the entire world for the better.
And what of the world? Tonight, it just sighed with relief – good things can happen to good people, it seems, and Americans are good people again.
In America’s journey toward a more just and truly democratic society, tonight is another milestone. And not just because the son of a Kenyan father and a mother from Kansas is now President-Elect. But also because tonight’s outcome is a declaration that we are once again a nation more driven by hope and promise than a nation driven by fear.
But these challenging times also will provide the new president with the opportunity to really transform America. As Gary Hart points out, “Great presidents do not emerge from quiet times; they arise in times of chaos and crisis.”
It’s a theme Michelle Obama touched on many times on the campaign trail. “Barack Obama will require that you work,” she said at a rally on the eve of Super Tuesday. “He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism; that you put down your divisions; that you come out of your isolation; that you move out of your comfort zones; that you push yourself to be better; and that you engage.”
“I want Obama to win with 99 percent, like Saddam Hussein. I swear if he doesn’t win, I’m going to take it personally.”
Hanin Abu Ayash, who works at a television station in Dubai and monitored early returns on his computer
“The margin of victory was emphatic and, whatever else follows, today the world changed,” said an editorial in The Times of London, and The Guardian newspaper proclaimed: “They did it. They really did it. So often crudely caricatured by others, the American people yesterday stood in the eye of history and made an emphatic choice for change for themselves and the world.”
When he was preparing for the Democratic primary debates, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”
Just when I thought I couldn’t love the man more.
Comment on Huffington Post by “cantbehavingwiththis”
As we start fresh with a constitutional law professor and senator from the Land of Lincoln, the Lincoln Memorial might be getting its gleam back.
I may have to celebrate by going over there and climbing up into Abe’s lap.
It’s a $50 fine. But it’d be worth it.
And a final thought from me: Good luck, President Obama. I know that’s not your title yet, but I’m just trying it on for size, you know? Your country is 100% behind you. Or at least I am, and pretty much everyone I know. We’re five by five, and Ready to Go. Let’s get back on track, shall we?
But first, time for another party!
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