Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wow! OMG! and all those other Expletives...Now What?

In my quest to stay awake to see Barack Obama speak, I actually had to limit my beverage consumption. I couldn't follow the "Monday Night Football" plan whereby I fall asleep on the couch during the commercial between the first and second halves, and then wake up in the fourth quarter to see what everybody is yelling about.

I was wired until the electoral tally broke 270 and then all the phone calls started coming in. My circle of friends seemed to be very happy in the wee hours, and I suspect there will be some groggy folks at their desks today.

Obama won...We won...Now what?

My home state of Tennessee continued its march against the tide and went heavily Republican at all levels. That's trouble for people who care about the environment or want religious proselytizing kept out of schools. There's a long list.

But now we have the scenario in place. The playing field has changed and the teams have different field positions than they did 24 hours ago. What's next?

One way to think about it is to see who were the winners and who are the losers after yesterday.

One pundit thinks that Obama's election means that race will be less of a barrier to candidates. This could have a bearing on Tennessee"

Harold Ford Jr./Artur Davis: Ford, a former Tennessee congressman and 2006 Senate candidate, and Davis, an Alabama congressman, are weighing bids for governor in their respective states in 2010. Obama's victory -- the first by an African American in the country's history -- and his strong showing in states like Virginia and North Carolina could well make it easier for both Ford and Davis, both of whom are black, to overcome the traditional racial divides present in southern politics. Obama's win doesn't mean Ford or Davis will win but it does lessen the power of the argument that a black candidate can't be elected to certain offices in certain parts of the country.

I strongly question that. Tennessee politics are driven by fear and loathing...The issues are rarely positive ones. We tend to stick to smearing our opponents as being against the god, gays, and guns hot buttons that motivate our likely voters. In a year when most of the rest of the nation put aside race as a qualification and voted for leadership, Tennessee's politicians ran as hard as they could away from the national ticket. They accepted the way things are in Tennessee and campaigned accordingly. I don't believe they had to.

Rather than trying to play into the prevailing prejudices, Tennessee's Democrats could have paid their dues in rewriting our state's narrative. We could have also moved away from prejudice as a campaign theme. Instead, we validated it.

My Country has, at least momentarily, moved away from race as an issue, but the burden of history will weigh heavily upon Barack Obama. The TV people keep talking about America electing a "Black Man" and I wish they wouldn't. I wish Obama could be thought of as a "Multi-Cultural" American.

After all...most of us are.

Folks, this country is in serious situation, debt ridden, divided on schools, health care, the environment, and the Iraq War and whether or not you can defeat terrorism by destroying a whole nation that had nothing to do with the act that started the war.

I have great hope (yes, there's that word again) that Barack Obama can reverse the course of neo-conservative destruction and decay beset upon America. It will take all his talents and all of our effort to support him. The question comes down, not to whether Barack Obama will be a great President of the United States of America...But rather, "Will we let him?"

The onus is actually on us. Are we ready to become a "Great Generation"?

I hope so.



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