We have a black president.
Yes, we have a new president. We have a Democrat president. But we have a black president, and that’s an important distinction to make, because it means something.
It means this nation has progressed. It means the line Jackie Robinson broke in 1947 has been extended to the farthest possible reaches. Imagine going back in time to 1955 and telling Rosa Parks, “One day a black man will be president.” It would be like going back to the 1940s and telling people we would one day walk on the Moon or fly to Mars. What seemed impossible in one time, becomes reality in another. That is progress. Progress is something to be proud of.
Of course, we elected Obama the man, not just the black man. We elected his ideals, his vision, and his hope. We elected him because we wanted change. And now that the time for change is here, we need to embrace it, all of us.
As Americans, it is in our best interest to greet each new president with hope. Regardless of whether you voted for Obama, he is going to be your president. Each new president needs to be given the benefit of the doubt from the people who did not vote for him. He may not be your choice, but he is your president. This is your country. What better way to usher in new leadership in the White House than with a country that can come together and hope for the best?
I have been on the losing end of elections before. I know the feeling of despair, the feeling of rejection and even anger that comes after your candidate loses. I may have been disappointed and perhaps a bit angry, but the one thing I always remained, above my emotions, is an American. As a whole, we all want what we think is best for the country. Isn’t coming together to support our new president part of what is best?
In his concession speech last night, John McCain said:
I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited. Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.
We are all Americans. Look at the pictures and videos from people around the country, even around the world, celebrating. There is an overwhelming emotion out there, and it is called hope. This is what Obama brings to the White House. This is what he brings to our country. You have to ask yourself, do I want to be a part of that hope? Or do I want to continue to live in fear of the unknown? To my Republican friends out there who voted for McCain, my hope is that you follow your candidate’s advice, and take his words to heart.
Benefit of the doubt. That is something the people who did not vote for Obama need to give to the president-elect right now. It does America no good to throw stones. It does American no good to draw more lines when we just crossed such a huge one. You can have hope that Obama listens to the whole country, and not just the people who voted for him. You can hope that things go better than you think they will. You can hope that whatever fears you have for the economy, for the troops, and for America as a whole are proven to be unfounded. But we all need to have hope. We need to be Americans together, not Americans apart. For the last four years especially, this country has been a divided one. It is my hope that Obama can close that divide and bring us together, by being a man of the people, and a man for the people. We all want the same things. We want to fix the economy. We want to find a way to bring the troops home without disturbing the peace process in Iraq. We want to feel good about the future. We want to hope, and we want that hope realized.
As I listened last night to friends and relatives who voted for McCain concede their hope for a Republican victory, I was buoyed by the optimism that existed within their resignation: “This election did not go the way I wanted it to, but that does not mean I give up as an American.” “I hope he can bring some unity to this country.” “I wish him the best, because I wish America the best.”
Look around you. Look at the tears of joy, listen to the voices of hope. When was the last time you saw this many Americans — black, white, old, young — experience such joy and hope together? Could Obama be the president who finally makes American whole?
Well, that is not really up to Obama. He can set the stage for it, but the rest is up to us. It is up to us as Americans.
As Obama said in his acceptance speech, America is a place where all things are possible.
It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.
We are, and always will be, the United States of America.
United. Are we united? Can we prove to the world, after this election, that we are a united country? That is part of my hope.
This is, indeed, an historic election. It is an historic day for us. We have shown that we welcome and accept change, that we are open to ideas that once seemed absurd, that we can affect change that once seemed impossible.
To quote John McCain once again:
And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.
Believe in America. Believe in the hope those of us who voted for Obama believe in.
History has been made. Let’s embrace it, together.