Never in my lifetime have I cast a vote for any presidential candidate I believed in as much as Barack Obama. Never in my lifetime have I cast a vote for a candidate I believed in this much who actually won. Yes, it’s been a politically lonely few decades going back to when I first started voting.
I only wish Martin Luther King had lived to see this day. If he had lived, perhaps he would’ve preceded Barack Obama as the first black president.
I was immensely moved to see Jesse Jackson’s tears during the CNN broadcast of Obama’s victory speech. You can only imagine the swirl of emotions he must have been feeling as the first widely popular black Democratic presidential primary candidate (running in 1988).
TV pundits noted that the victory speech and celebration were both joyful and subdued at the same time. Partly, this is because the nation faces some of the worst economic news since FDR was inaugurated in 1932. Partly, this is because the full enormity of the first black president in U.S. history is something slightly overwhelming.
Obama’s speech was literally gorgeous. He was exceedingly gracious to John McCain I thought. He didn’t just pay lip service to the loser. He actually made extended remarks appreciating the man’s entire life and career.
For me, the highlight was this passage. As he delivered it I turned to my wife and said: “My God, it’s been eight years since we’ve been able to hear a president talk like this:”
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
For that is the true genius of America that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This is worthy of Obama’s great predecessors Lincoln and Martin Luther King. Let us hope that he realizes these principles as he governs.
As I looked at Barack Obama share the stage with his lovely family I said: “Is this what Haman or Hitler could possibly look like?” And I felt deep shame that some of my fellow Jews would actually believe some of the absurd, hateful ideas that they do about this man. While it’s true that he’s not a god, nor a miracle worker (and Republicans will quickly try to make that clear back in Congress), he’s not a devil either. For the life of me, I cannot understand the demonization that groups like the Republican Jewish Coalition, Orthodox Jews and other pro-Israel right wingers attempted to use against him.
Though I am satisfied that the people have spoken and soundly rejected their hate. The verdict of history will confirm it.