November 5, 2008

Last night, America awoke from its fevered nightmare of the past eight years and threw off the shackles of bigotry and racism long enough to elect the most exciting political candidate to hit this nation since JFK blew into the White House over 48 years ago. Today, for the first time in many a year, I am proud to be called an American. And there are millions just like me.

Of course, it took the failure of nearly every aspect of this country to lead to any kind of movement towards reality, but at least the attempt has now been made. And, of course, Obama is not perfect; he is not progressive enough in many of his stances and he is not a miracle worker. But, compared to the eternal darkness of the past eight years, he is a supernova. And compared to McCain/Palin, Obama is a godsend. The idea of having Sara Palin in a position of leadership in our government made me feel as if I had opened my freezer and found my baby daughter’s head stuffed in there. Terrifying beyond all sensible reason.

For years to come, historians will discuss the huge significance of an African American man winning an election for a position that has had only white men for its entire history. And well they should. But, this election was hugely important for another reason. This election, at least for the time being, spelled the end of conservatism in this country. It was not all encompassing and it did not happen everywhere, but it did happen in enough areas to sweep the wealthy, white, WASP conservatives who have ruled this country for the last 200 plus years from the majority of their golden thrones. Since the failure of conservative foreign and economic policy, not to mention environmental and domestic policy, has become so painfully obvious to nearly everyone the past few years, a change was due. The greed hungry, bigoted, arrogant, war mongers who call themselves Republicans have been slain like the filthy dragons they are. Their time is over. They will slink like dinosaurs into the fossil record and be mocked by future generations for their failed hubris and ignorance.

All you have to do is compare the two crowds from last night’s speeches. At the McCain/Palin concession speech, the crowd was 99.9% white. As the camera’s paned across their haggard and distraught faces one thing was clear: their time has passed. At Obama’s acceptance speech, however, the crowd, of course much larger and happier, was also much more indicative of what America truly is. The crowd was composed of black, whites, Asians, Hispanics, Middle Eastern, Native American, gay, straight, mixed races, transgender, and all other types of humanity that now call America home. That is what will be the most shocking thing to the conservatives and Republicans who have been run out on a collective rail. The most shocking thing to these people of privilege and superiority is that they are no longer the dominant example of a voting American. What they want no longer matters the most to the rest of the country. They are relics of a former time when greed ruled the country and every white person was entitled to a huge house in a suburban enclave reachable only be driving a huge SUV hundreds of miles a week while the Mexicans mowed their lawns and the blacks were kept in the cities or in jail. Now, these fossils are left to ponder what their future is now that their own kind has ruined the economy and dragged America down with two unwinnable wars. Where is their place in a country that sees them not only as the minority, but as the reason for America’s vast and various failures. Perhaps the best thing is for them to scoop up their millions of needless possessions, along with their bibles and religious rhetoric, and build a huge ocean liner that they can all live on. Like Noah’s fabled ark, they can sail the world’s oceans and dream about a better time when minorities knew their place, women did all of the cooking, priests ruled the class rooms and hospitals, and no one questioned why the president might want to bomb some foreign race into oblivion. They can guzzle bourbon and whip each other with leather lashes as they dream about a time when they were the only ones allowed on a golf course to play, when the blacks had to use another door and drink from a different fountain, when America was smiled upon by a white god who anointed them rulers of the world.

And the rest of us can move forwards trying to figure out how to live with each other peacefully and save a dying planet.