Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barrackin' the USA

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, it's been a hectic time the past week. On top of being a working sports editor at a Northern Virginia newspaper, I also happen to just plain work there. And seeing as we were a paper smack dab in the middle of one of the biggest battle ground areas in this election, I was called into duty to take on some political reporting.

I've refrained from entering into politics for the most part on this forum, mostly because I don't think I'm nearly qualified to be in the business of persuading minds ideologically. But I can't help but feel in awe about what went down tonight.

I don't think it really hit me just how historical all this was until I started seeing the build up over the course of today. I started at a precinct in suburban Maryland, a state that was a no-brainer to go Barrack Obama's way. At 7 am the line stretched 50 yards, it grew to 150 yards just 30 minutes later. I know people want to focus on the race issue — but it's Obama's ability to transcend race that really struck me.

As soon as the results started pouring in and it started becoming clear that this indeed would be Obama's day, my attention immediately turned to that victory speech. A great setting with Grant Park, a great night in general with warmer than expected temperatures. I mean, frankly, that victory speech was automatically going to be filed into the national archives of this country for generations to come whether Obama stuttered his way through it or delivered it masterfully. Seriously, if you were lucky enough to be at Grant Park, let me know. I'd love to hear what being a part of history is like.

Afterwards, I started watching some of the pundits talk about his performance. How he was more stoic than he was on the campaign trail. How he wisely tried to attract himself to the remaining Americans who still don't believe in him. How he was smart to make it clear that the change he's seeking hasn't ended with just one election victory. But what stuck out to me about Obama's speech was its parallels to history, its sense that this was an important moment.

I couldn't help but think of Kennedy's "Ask not what you can do" business when I heard this:

"Let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.

and then when he quoted Lincoln himself:

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends, though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.

I think it's Obama's embrace of the urgency wrapping around our country that has drawn the nation to him. We're past the days of Bush lie after Bush lie about our stable footing. Whether Barack Obama is a man of his words remains to be seen, but the man sure as hell did a good job pulling the strings on our hopes and dreams.

Seriously, the streets of every major American city look like Brazil after a World Cup or something. When's the last time regular joe schmos had a spontaneous reaction like this? The 60's? All this talk of America's youth being in some kind of apathetic malaise were overblown, especially considering the ridiculous turnout numbers that are undoubtedly going to emerge in the coming weeks.

Basically what I'm trying to say after watching hours of poltical coverage is that I think Obama got the nation caring about itself again. We may not actually be involved in the process that affects our daily lives, but at least it seems as if people care enough to at least take interest in it again.

Above any other barriers that were broken during this grueling 21-month Presidential campaign, the crumbling of America's boredom with legitimate discourse and undertaking of the political process should be the lasting legacy of Obama's victory.

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