06 November 2008

Even curmudgeons are allowed to be hopeful

The emotions revealed on many of the televised faces of the faithful when Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech in Chicago Tuesday night were moving, perhaps even for some people who opposed him. I knew intellectually that the first African-American president-elect would be of profound historical significance, but I was surprised how emotionally affected I was by the both moment and the reactions of some of the people interviewed as the outcome became certain, most notably historians Vincent Harding and Howard Zinn, who repeatedly stressed the opportunities for a social movement willing to push Obama to be bolder and more radical.

Wednesday morning Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano told Democracy Now that Obama should never forget that the black slave labor built the White House. Amen.

The GOP, and Sarah Palin in particular, mocked Obama’s background as a community organizer during the campaign, but one of the factors for Obama’s success with the remarkable discipline of his organization. They were on track, and focused, even if they were much too polished for my sensibilities. I’ll grant you they also had beaucoup bucks, which makes damn near everything easier, but that can’t guarantee a road show as well rehearsed and seemingly at easy as this one. Plus, as a public speaker and a public presence, Obama is exceptionally poised, especially by comparison to McCain, who doesn’t even look comfortable in his own skin. I have admired those qualities of the Obama campaign in spite of my deep disagreements with him on a boatload of policy matters.

Global reaction to Obama’s election has almost been as universally ecstatic and supportive as it was negative and despairing for the reign of Bush-Cheney, who still have time to be impeached and prosecuted for war crimes.

However, the Obama honeymoon will be over soon, perhaps very quickly for curmudgeons like me, but there is, for now, a level of hope and an opportunity for greater fairness and equality that hasn’t existed in this nation for many years. May we seize the moment.