What this election means
I confess to having a great, you might say sentimental, devotion to voting. I have voted in every election I've been eligible for, and that means I've voted for a long succession of losing presidential candidates. In fact, Clinton was the first winning candidate I ever voted for, and one of the votes I was least enthusiastic for.
Still, I love to vote. This year I'm more fervent about it than in most years, and the last few nights I've felt like a little kid before Christmas. It's not just me, though. I sense a greater excitement for this election than I ever have before.
I was in Boston the night Obama secured enough electoral votes to be the candidate. I was watching his speech in the basement of a building at Boston University with four or five maintenance workers, four of whom were African, one was Hispanic. These guys were totally into it. They knew the candidates, they knew their positions, they could talk knowledgeably about possible vice presidential and cabinet choices. They knew it was an important night.
But not as important as tomorrow.
When Barack Obama was born, black people were still legally prevented from voting in parts of the United States. During our lifetimes we've seen brave people beaten and killed trying to vote; and seen candidates elected not because of the strength of their policies, but because of their ability to exploit racial fears and hatred. Now, our country, a country that owes so much of its culture to the legacy of slavery, stands on the threshold of electing its first black president. Think of what that says to the rest of the world, but more importantly, think of what it says to millions of our own citizens, citizens who have been told their whole lives, in word and in deed, that they don't have a say in what happens to their country.
He'll make mistakes, and we'll presumably stay in the opposition to much of what he does. But the important thing is this:
Starting tomorrow, everything is different. Forever.