Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I don't know what changes now.

This morning the world feels fresh and new, and I'm still on the verge of tears. Only a handful of things in my blessed life -- and I have lived a seriously charmed life, touch wood -- have made me feel this grateful, this hopeful, and this proud.

I don't know what happens next.

Politicians inevitably disappoint us. Barack Obama can't possibly fulfill all our hopes, and by the end of the week we'll see those who feel they share credit for Obama's victory lining up for what they consider to be their just deserts. Our President-elect has made it clear that he can't grant all these requests, and our 24-hour media cycle will make sure that we hear all about the backlash as soon as it starts.

But that's okay, because last night we all remembered what this country is supposed to be about. Senator McCain's concession speech was not only gracious, but deeply patriotic. President-elect Obama's was equally so.

Being an American is not about accidents of birth or ethnicity. It's not about heritage, it's not about history. It is about the assumption that we are all created equal, and that we all have the right to succeed. It is about agreeing to the laws that govern us, coming together to protect each other, and taking care of the weakest members of our society. To be an American is to be a member of a social contract that obligates us as well as rewards us, and at its best offers opportunity to all.

We needed to be reminded of this. The world needed to be reminded of this. No matter what happens next, last night we came together and remembered who we're supposed to be.

Now we can carry that forward.

6 comments:

Moira said...

beautifully written. I linked to you on my blog. And thanks for the tip about the Bidens. Gave you a shout out too : )

Tom Ehrenfeld said...

Lovely post.

It's still a bittersweet day for me, not to be politically greedy, but to have Prop 8 pass in California is for me a very disheartening event.

AnswerGirl said...

I know, and in Arizona too. But I have to believe that that fight, too, is just a matter of time.

spyscribbler said...

I love that, especially the social contract bit. We all have a duty to make this country what it will be.

Karen Olson said...

Our constitutional convention question was firmly rejected here in Connecticut. So on Nov. 12, gay marriage will be legal here.

I find it interesting that the Mormons are the ones who fought Prop 8 in California. I mean, isn't that sort of an oxymoron?

AnswerGirl said...

The Mormon Church's campaign against Prop. 8 is weird on many levels, and I've heard all kinds of theories on what that's about.

But yes, I would think that gay marriage makes the argument for legal polygamy much more sustainable. Not, of course, that the LDS Church endorses polygamy, because they don't.

It's possible that I've watched too much BIG LOVE.