I feel more uplifted with regard to the election results than I assumed I would. Yes, at a federal level we have only vestigial democracy in this country. The electoral system is broken and almost totally corrupted by money, as is the federal government itself in various ways. Media discourse is deeply debased, barbaric even. The platform of one of our two major parties has gradually become more and more dogmatically and frighteningly reactionary.
And yet… I couldn’t help but be moved by the president’s victory speech last night – its graciousness, humility, inclusiveness. This man – in character and temperament, in intelligence – is probably the best we will get for a very long time. And there is some real vindication of this in the fact that he ultimately prevailed against an endless barrage, from Day One of his presidency, of not only intransigent opposition but disinformation and slander, at times crude and ugly beyond belief.
I guess what’s also contributing to this feeling is seeing the 18-29 age group increase its voting percentage this time around, which was unexpected, and the black and latina/o turnout, despite all the efforts of suppression. And of course watching our appallingly destructive “war on drugs” finally get a couple of real, solid blows. And seeing New Hampshire end up with its four-person congressional delegation, plus governor, being all women. That’s truly, truly awesome… And Obama winning even Virginia and – it looks like – Florida too.
Somehow, in spite of myself and everything I know about the state of the country and world, about how nothing has really changed congressionally or – with regard to the system as a whole – structurally, I’m kind of a little bit moved today. Note the disclaimers! – we’re a right mess, no doubt about it. We don’t recognize the reality of complete interdependence, and because of this we get everything – to one degree or another – wrong. We can’t (yet) see our way through to a world without scapegoats and enemies, beyond war mentality.
Obama too is not free of this vision, not free of imperfections in judgment and policy. But I appreciate his gentleness and thoughtfulness, his genuine respect for others and openness to different perspectives, and his extraordinary calm, qualities positively required in his job these days as we look towards a number of exceptional challenges.
Nobody should have the amount of responsibility on their shoulders that he has. But since it seems that he does, I can only hope that more and more of those who over the past four years have sought nothing other than to tear him down, regardless of the cost, will recognize how much of a moderate the president truly is. His heart, I believe, is progressive, but by temperament and style he is rather conservative, and this is actually a pretty ideal combo in a US president for these times.
Maybe, just maybe, this election result can bring about a little less rigidity of view. I know I know, hard to imagine these days. But I think most people really long for that. With just a bit of non-partisan, good-faith support, some fine things could yet be accomplished.