I'm not sure if anyone has heard, but there was an election yesterday and the new president elect of the United States is Barack Obama. Of course, like the rest of the country we stayed up last night tracking the results on the TV and computer. I was happy to see my home state of Pennsylvania turn blue. Especially after I saw some footage of about 300 students lined up at my Alma Mater, Penn State, first thing in the morning to vote. I'm hoping those students see the power of their vote and will feel encouraged to use their voice again in the next election. I am likewise tickled to see such a tight race here in North Carolina. While we may not be blue yet, I am thrilled with purple. And it's not about anybody "winning" that makes me happy. I think of the history of slavery and the fight for civil rights in North Carolina and I am humbled that this state is even close to overcoming those past transgressions. The fact that North Carolina is even purple proves to me that the tide has turned and anyone really can be president if they work hard enough. So if anyone is looking for a candidate in 2012, I'll be 35 by then...
John McCain impressed me last night. While I was sad for him, I appreciated his stoicism. He became the old John McCain I always liked. I have to wonder if there was a part of him that was relieved to be able to get back to who he really is. Maybe that sounds weird, but I saw a different man last night. And the only explanation I can think of for this change in him is that he was again following his own gut instead of some campaign strategist's gut. I think if John McCain had been John McCain throughout this two year campaign we would have seen some different numbers last night. During his speech, he struck me as sincere, respectful, humble and strong.
Less impressive were McCain's supporters present at his concession speech. I've only watched 2 other concession speeches for my candidates in 2000 and 2004, but I don't recall any booing from the crowd. Sure I recall a depressed mood and sullen faces, but I just don't remember any booing or yelling or chanting taking place during the speech. I was sad for those people that were booing; they were obviously not raised properly. Of course, I don't expect anyone that voted for McCain to be farting rainbows over the fact that Obama got elected. But at least try to be graceful over the defeat. We've all been defeated and you know what, we'll all be defeated again. Kind of like death and taxes, a little bit of defeat is something we can all count on.
I don't think Obama is going to save the world. I haven't "drank the kool-aid" as I've heard so many dismissive jackasses use the phrase. But I'm reading his book and this is a man I respect. This is a smart and thoughtful man that was raised properly. This is a man who could have easily pursued a high paying law job, but instead chose to serve his country---yes Rudy Giuliani, even in a "community organizer" capacity. This is a man who has time and time again chosen a road of sacrifice to do what he thinks is right, even if it is not the most profitable. John McCain has lots of these same qualities, in spades even. I can see that. A big difference between their campaigns though is that Obama inspires a sense of community rather than division. He would rather try to heal the country than wound it further with hate. He doesn't want to scare us into submission, he would rather give us some hope. Maybe it is only hope that he offers. And if that's the case, I need some of that right now.