On Nov. 4th, 2008, we the people of the United States of America elected a black man to be our 44th president. This, in and of itself, is massively imbued with a symbolism both superficial and profound. It represents a great step forward in the process of healing our racial wounds at home and also grants us the opportunity to rekindle the alliances we’d frayed abroad; to remind the world that despite our shortcomings, on our best days we are a righteous people who try our damndest to be on the side of virtue. What happened this week is nothing short of awe-inspiring and wonderful. I’m blessed that I was alive to see it happen.
But at the end of the day, when you strip everything to its core, what we did on Tuesday was elect a president. One that inherits two wars, housing and financial crises, and numerous challenges raging from energy sufficiency to healthcare. Did I mention the ever-present threat of terrorism, both foreign and home-grown? (I can’t help but think that the election of a black president might re-energize the somewhat dormant extreme right-wing militia groups that long to overthrow the US government. So add that to Al-Qaeda.)
Personally, I can separate the joy of the undoubtedly symbolic nature of what happened last Tuesday, with the sobering thought of the steep incline facing the next administration. But the latter is tempered by the fact that this is a smart and capable man who seems worthy of the monumental challenges before him. That he may fail is an inescapable possibility, especially when there may be intervening factors beyond his reach or control. However, if the efficient, resourceful, practically gaffe-less way the Obama campaign was run is an indicator of how the next president will lead, then we should be confident in our country’s decision to elect him. Always cautious, of course. But confident, nonetheless.
Isn’t that what hope is all about?