Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Black and Brilliant

Last night, the champagne, wine and Jubilation Ale having washed in waves across the 15 or so people at my place who were following the election returns, I admit I had a moment of petulance when McCain gave his concession speech. I was unable to articulate why at the time. But I think this gets at it:
I confess a certain impatience, on this poignant day, with all the earnest talk about how America achieved something remarkable yesterday by electing our first African-American president, as if the choice has been about race all along. I do not mean to diminish an historic first, like electing a Catholic in 1960; I, too, choked-up when John Lewis spoke. But relief today is not about Americans choosing an obviously black man over a white man, which proves we can come to terms with our past. It is about our choosing an obviously brilliant, reciprocal man over a thick, cynical one--a man who articulates a coherent vision of global commonwealth over someone advancing vague, military patriotism--which proves we can come to terms with our future.
Obviously, as the election of the first black president, the occasion is momentous and the implications for American society run deep. For the first time in quite a long time, I really do feel proud about my country. And the reaction of the entire rest of the world is thrilling. But we shouldn't forget that we've elected a brilliant, intellectually agile, and obviously politically talented person, not just a black man. There's something amiss in making this exclusively an election about race, whichever your political brand. He is certainly the best presidential candidate fielded in my lifetime. Regardless of his blackness or whiteness or whatever, we would have been a truly sorry country to pass that up.

1 comment:

MT said...

It's the one story everybody could be happy about. The percentage of the electorate who thinks he's a terrorist doesn't change overnight. Winner take all doesn't apply to what people think.