Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This Close to History

Standing this close to a historical moment, can be a very humbling experience. I find myself wondering what it must have been like to read about Pearl Harbor, or to experience the surrender of the Nazi regime in London.

I have had few historical moments in my life that have come somewhat close to that magnitude. One was, I witnessed my home province of Quebec reject a referendum that would have begun the process of separation in Canada. Another was, I witnessed Nelson Mandela finally get released, and then take command of the South African government via the ballot box. I also witnessed the Berlin wall falling down, and watched Germany unify once more.

Today, once again, I feel connected to history. It is a very satisfying feeling. I will try and document my thoughts…

  • We saw the youth of this country participate in the democratic process at unprecedented levels. This is, in my opinion, is just as vital an accomplishment as the racial barrier that was broken last night. Indeed, it might just be the lasting legacy of this election. The race problems in America, will take another generation (or more) to fully resolve; Obama’s election was just a stepping stone to that arduous climb, but not the pinnacle. However, I think younger voters will continue to stay mobilized and invested in this country, because Obama showed us how you can include them in unprecedented numbers. Young people in America, take a bow. It doesn’t matter who you voted for, you came out in throngs, and invested in this country’s future, I am very proud of you.

  • I was particularly thrilled to see Obama’s acceptance speech underline the theme of unity. In other words, to establish an agenda of non-partisanship, to understand the importance of working with all people, of all persuasions and politics to solve the difficult problems ahead. It was the first real sign Obama will govern from the center, and that the election was not a mandate to return to “tax and spend” liberalism of decade's past. If Obama can somehow miraculously diminish the poisonous politics of the baby-boom generation, and embrace a competitive, spirited but respectful debate moving forward, I believe this will be a monumental achievement.

  • My favorite quote last night, from all the pundits, all the panels and all the analysis came from a French journalist on the Charlie Rose show. He quoted a voter he met in New York, who surmised my own feelings on the historic nature of this election so beautifully:

Rosa Parks sat, so that Martin Luther King could walk, so that Barack Obama could run, so that America could fly.

Amen. I feel like I could fly today, that’s how good this feels.


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