What I Saw at the Obama Revolution

As I entered Grant Park on Tuesday night to cover the Obama victory party, I happened to glance up at the statues on either side of the broad walkway that serves as a gateway to this treasured Chicago landmark. They are identical bronze representations of a man on a rearing horse. At that moment, a flash of memory struck me like a slap across the face.

There is a famous photo snapped during the 1968 riots at the Democratic National Convention that shows a young man on top of one of these statues waving the black North Vietnamese flag. I then realized that the probable election victory of Obama meant that the argument over Vietnam that served as a cultural, political, and social divide in America for 40 years was either at an end or at the beginning of the end.

This thought was buttressed by what I witnessed as I made my way through the gigantic crowd. At least seven out of ten Obama supporters who were reveling in his coming victory were under the age of 30 -- and that's a conservative estimate. None of these people were even alive when Vietnam, Watergate, assassinations, and riots cleaved us in two, ripping the fabric of our national polity asunder and opening a chasm between the two sides that may -- just may -- have begun to close with Obama's victory last night.

That remains to be seen. But there is little doubt that the potential for some kind of healing has presented itself with the election of Barack Obama as president. He is not of that time either. And while some of his politics may reflect a hard liberalism, it is not a lockstep love affair with the new left ideals to which many Democrats in Congress adhere. It is tempered with some surprising thoughts on personal responsibility and the notion that individuals are empowered to make a difference in this country. We will see how wedded he is to these positions when confronted with the Pelosi-Reid idea of how to "transform" America.