Five Reasons Every American Should Be Proud Today

5 11 2008

Let’s transcend politics and look at the arc of history today.  The hard work will come – but for now, I wish to revel in some starry-eyed honeymooning.  No matter who you voted for, here are some reasons to be proud of your country today:

Senator John McCain’s Call For Unity

Senator McCain’s concession speech was the most gracious and patriotic concession I have ever heard.  While his crowd seemed to want almost none of it, he – and most of his supporters – are better than that.  This is the man I was excited about in 2000.  Had he run like this – had he been this guy all year – and avoided the neocons who sunk their claws into him, we’d very possibly be looking at a different outcome today.  I continue to believe – as I always have and as I have said publicly loud and often – that John McCain is a good man who wants the best for his nation.  It wasn’t particularly obvious these last few months, and that was tragic.  This speech – and the action that will undoubtedly follow it – serves as a powerful exclamation point on a distinguished career.

Full Circle, But A 180

The summer before I was born, Grant Park in Chicago was the scene of violent political protests against an unpopular war.  Police and youth clashed brutally.  Last night, as a relatively young guy, I felt lucky as hell to witness 150,000 youths gathered in that same park, cheering for a President-Elect who had successfully run against an unpopular war.  We’ve come a long way, baby.

Young People’s Hopes and Dreams

I don’t care how trite it’s become to describe Obama as an inspirational figure; this really cannot be overstated.  I grew up a poor kid in rural America.  I found inspirations where I could – some were real and omnipresent (like my Mom), and some were not.  They are not escapes, nor fantasies – they really do serve as archetypes that help construct one’s internal limits of possibility.  Being able to point to someone in the outside world and say “they did it” – whatever “it” might be – really does give a young person permission to air wild dreams in pleasant company.   To see a black man who came from nothing ascend to the American Presidency is a source of boundless inspiration for millions of American kids – black and white, rich and poor.  Last night, seeing so many young faces lit up by the bright glow of infinite potential – finally letting their mental space expand into the reality that, oh my God, it really can happen; it really did happen – says a lot about America indeed.

Racism Is Dying In America

Sure, it’s not dead yet – but it is gasping its dying breaths.  What we saw last night was the strongest proof yet that the scars of one of America’s great sins continue to fade.

The People Came Through

I often gripe and complain about American apathy and our lack of sociopolitical engagement.  This looks like it will be the highest turnout since 1968.  And it wasn’t just the voting – this election season brought in a new generation of active, engaged citizens who want the best for their nation, and who selflessly invested their elbow grease, their voices, their money and their passion in its pursuit.  I couldn’t be more pleased about being proven wrong.

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