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.