334 electoral votes (at last count) later, this is no longer what you might call a victory. It’s now pretty much a blow out. What Obama did last night is called “winning decisively” or, alternately, “handing John McCain his ass.” McCain was gracious about it, accepting the failure as his own during his concession speech, and Obama, for his part, remained dignified and concentrated not on himself but on us. Which is why, I think, he was so galvanic.
I think few of his supporters believe he won last night.
I think we believe we won. He just happens to be our candidate, because he has risen up to become our voice. In him we see ourselves at our very best, and the hope to lead our country to its very best.
In him, I believe, we see the living embodiment of a dream:
That all men are created equal, and that we may live in a society in which we are judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. I’ve noticed that pretty much every media source in the country notes the historicity of his race, that he is the very first African American elected president, but I wonder if that does a disservice to what he has truly accomplished. Because he proved so decisively that what truly counts is the person, the candidate, and not the race or the creed or the gender. What matters is action and speech, thought and gesture, and I don’t believe Obama won despite that he is Black; I believe he won solely because, for once, people set color and race aside to focus on what truly matters.
And I think that’s beautiful.
403 years ago today (by my count, but remember of course how terrible I am at math), on 5 November, 1605, Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up Parliament was foiled.
In following years, Fawkes came to regarded more as a hero than as a terrorist. “Guy Fawkes was the only man ever to enter parliament with honest intentions” became a common saying, and in 2002, the BBC ranked him 30th among the 100 Greatest Britons of all time.
Later, Alan Moore used the Fawkes mask in V for Vendetta, which is an awesome movie:
Watching it always makes me tear up. Particularly this scene:
It fills me with a sense of joy and elation, a feeling of possiblity and hope.
The same feeling that filled me last night, first when I saw Barack Obama pull ahead in the polls, and then again when I saw ABC News projecting him as the winner. I didn’t want to believe it; I’ve witnessed two presidential debates that were hijacked within a few hours, or which called for greater deliberation that meant they couldn’t be decided for days or weeks.
But then I saw the rumor that McCain had called Obama to concede, which I found on the Associated Press site.
And then I watched the concession speech.
And that was when it finally started to sink in:
This might really be happening. This could be real.
Given the state of things, I remain cautiously optimistic. I will remain worried about waking up to find something awful has happened. Probably for a while.
But cautious optimism is optimism nonetheless, and of all the rare commodities lately in light of the financial crisis, hope might have been rarest of all.
Evey is right, in that clip up above. The pundits will say this was all about the economy, and partly about race, but I think it was about more than that. It was not just about hope but also ideas, and Evey is right that you cannot kiss an idea, nor touch it, nor hurt it. Ideas do not bleed, nor feel pain.
The same can be said for change. You cannot touch nor hold change.
You can only be it.
And now, we have our chance.
Yes we can.
Yes we did.
Yes we will.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
The power and audicity of change.
I can think of no reason
In this autumn season
To doubt or question its range.
Barack, Barack, ’twas his intent
To defeat McCain for president.
Three hundred college votes select
Obama president elect.
By people’s choice he will now lead
A great country toward its greater dreams.
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let freedom ring.
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let choirs sing.