This is an astounding moment in US history, in world history. Is it even possible to overstate the magnitude of this moment? I still can't believe it. The USA elected a black man as its leader. Racism is over! Finally, the scourge of slavery can be wiped from the history books.
Ah, the jokes. But seriously, it's amazing to look at how far this country has come. 150 years ago, slavery was legal in the United States. 112 years ago, the Supreme Court affirmed that racial segregation was constitutional (Plessy v Ferguson). 62 years ago, "negroes" couldn't play baseball with whites. 55 years ago school segregation was legal. Discrimination on the base of race was legal until 44 years ago (when Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act). Barack Obama is 47 years old. And he's the 44th President of the United States.
On this day, four years ago, I was devastated. I'd been getting out the vote in New Hampshire for days, had given the maximum donation to the Kerry campaign, and had really believed that the country would reject the despicable policies of Bush and the neo-cons. When they didn't, it was one of the most depressing days of my life. I remember walking around Cambridge and not being able to look passers-by in the eye because I felt that if I saw anything less than equivalent suffering in their eyes, I'd either cry or fly into a rage. In Cambridge! It was brutal. But I also remember emailing with friends the day after the election about an Obama 08 campaign. Earlier that year, Obama had taken the DNC by storm with his keynote speech. He was the chosen one. But could a black man really win the presidency yet? Surely one day, but was it too soon? Where would he get the electoral votes? Wasn't racism still too strong of an undercurrent for this to happen? Even as recently as yesterday, this same question lingered. And now that question is obsolete. Racism, of course, lives on in the US. But - wow - how far the nation has come.
I've said elsewhere on VTK that, while I support Obama for president, he no longer represents the progressive left, and the work to hold him accountable starts the day after the election. I'm going to flip-flop on that. Today's a day for celebration and reflection. Accountability starts tomorrow.