Thursday, November 06, 2008
Four years ago, he was a State senator from Illinois. Four years ago, the idea of electing a black man as president of the United States was a fantasy.
This belongs to you, Barack Obama told his supporters. And it did, in the way any presidential victory does, in the combination of the sweat and tears, the contributions and calls, the ads and speeches and targeting and tactics of hundreds and then thousands of people. Obama had a great team and a great campaign.
It was because of them, and because of the army of volunteers and contributors, because of the economy and the collapse on Wall Street and the failings of the Bush presidency and the absurdity of putting Tina Fey a heartbeat away from the presidency of America's oldest candidate. It was because of all those things that Barack Obama is our next president.
But it is also, perhaps more than anything else, because of him.
He did it.
He imagined it and pursued it and stuck with it. He found his voice and took his case to the country. He had a message of hope and optimism that may not have transcended race, but helped millions of Americans to transcend his.
I saw him give that speech in Boston four years ago, the one that started this journey. He was big then, but he is bigger now. He had a voice then, but it has power now. He seemed young then, and he is older now.
I have heard many political speeches in my life. I know all about the rhetorical flourishes, the use of stories and anecdotes, the "I remember the lady in Cleveland who told me…"
But there was something magical about Obama's story of the 106-year-old woman casting her vote for America's first black president. It wasn't her story, but ours, ours as a country, the story that binds us together and that Obama now embodies.
This was not the night I dreamt of. I dreamt of a night when a woman would stand where Obama stood and little girls around the world would know that the world had changed. That was not meant to be.
But little girls and little boys today know that the world has changed. It did. It happened.
It was not a blowout. The polls were off in some places where it turned out to be tighter than expected. Did people lie? Did they lie because of race? Maybe. But it doesn't matter, not much, not anymore. We are past that.
It was not a blowout, but it also wasn't close. The haters can't whine about vote fraud, can't complain that it wasn't fair, that it was stolen. Barack Obama won. Race will forever be understood differently in this country because of that. We have entered the future.
Martin Luther King had a dream. The Obamas are going to Washington. God bless America.
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