I am not insensitive (how could anyone be?) to the outpouring of emotion among black people at the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. I completely understand the significance of this moment for blacks and America more generally. In one single blow, millions of Americans now feel a sense of inclusion that has been lacking since the founding of our country. In a sense, black Americans have now become simply Americans.
This is a cause for rejoicing. And we are a much better country for it. We are going to need every American.
Coupled with this development is a consequent and likely, instant, restoration of America’s standing around the world. No, not every problem we have is solved by the election of a mixed race man with a Muslim name to the oval office, but it doesn’t hurt. And it is true, in my experience, that his story could only come true in America. In few other places in the world can someone of Obama’s common and impoverished beginnings rise to become the most powerful person in the country. In short, Barack Obama instantly restores America’s reputation as a land of opportunity and dynamism unrivaled in the world.
These are wonderful side benefits to the elevation of Barack Obama to the highest office in the land.
Another side benefit is the punishment this metes out to the GOP/Conservative and, especially, the Neocon movement. As Francis Fukuyama put it: “it would a travesty to reward the Republicans for failure on such a grand scale.” I can hardly express the magnitude of anger, frustration, and disgust I have felt for the Bush administration. I won’t list the myriad ways that I believe they have perverted American ideals and betrayed the public, but I will say that they deserve punishment far worse than merely losing power. And I sincerely hope (and will work to see) that additional, and harsher, punitive measures are in the offing.
But here’s the main reason I voted for Barack Obama.
He represents a generational shift towards a complete package of competence, intellect, character, and judgment. For the last sixteen years we’ve been governed by proxies for the 60s culture wars. First with the “anti-establishment” Clintons and then, of course, by the “establishment” president Bush. Without diminishing the advances achieved through the cultural upheaval of that time, these wars will now (and must) come to an end. Barack Obama possesses the competence and intellect of Clinton, the character of Bush, and, above all, the judgment synthesized by an appreciation of the pros and cons of both of them. He will truly take the best of the left and the right and make the pragmatic post-60s decision. This is important. Obama is a technocrat (the first president to regularly use a Blackberry and computer) with a calm global perspective that will serve us well in this tumultuous time. He is not bound by battles that will ultimately never be won. He has moved beyond them.
So it is this: His generational perspective coupled with his equanimity, intellect, and character won my vote. Barack Obama is one of the best of us. And he is the right man for our time. We should all hope and pray for his (and our) success.