I know everyone and anyone is talking about this today...and I hate to be repetitive...but here goes.
I have to say that I was surprised at how quickly everything played out last night. The first news reports were all about the states that were "too close to call"....of course they didn't play up the fact that they were too close to call because the polls had been closed all of two minutes.
Watching all of it unfold, I was both mesmerized and annoyed. Mesmerized by the movement, the power, the grass roots, and the enthusiasm of the people - the everyday people - who were voting and then celebrating as if we were a brand new democracy. Annoyed by listening to the media coverage that just could not capture the essence of this event and instead kept interrupting and detracting from it.
Regardless however, the evening completed on a high note. Watching Senator McCain speak so gracefully and graciously in defeat, and his call for unity and support despite our differences to solve the critical issues we face as a nation, I was reminded of what a great man he is. The fact that he subverted that with his pursuit of power was in fact, his undoing. Compromising his values, his independence, and allowing his campaign to use scare tactics to try and capture this election was unworthy of the great patriot and public servant he has always been. This country was founded on the great debate. If we think that all of the men who formed our union did so with gracious smiles and unanimous decisions we are deluding ourselves. There was tremendous debate, significant arm-twisting and powerplays, and no small amount of railroading. But in the end, what they created is still ONE of the greatest governments and nations in the world.
Following Senator McCain's speech was our next president, Barack Obama. I love typing that. President Barack Obama. His speech was incredible, as always. He continues to inspire me every time. But it was not overly celebretory; there was no rubbing it in, it was all about inclusiveness and a shared vision and purpose. He recognized that many people did not vote for him, but he promised to still listen to them and to represent their interests to the best of his ability.
It has been said that a person running for president is consumed with the ideas of what they can accomplish, but once elected, is equally as consumed by what cannot be achieved.
I hope that President-elect Obama finds that his ability to inspire overcomes this. And while he inherits a broken and suffering nation, if he can mobilize and lead the people, rather than belittle and exclude them, he has the power to achieve and accomplish great things.
I have long been a fan of that idealistic White House created in the West Wing. In fact, I may just dig up my old vhs tapes and watch a few of my favorite episodes, and just hope that some semblance of that fiction is part of the Obama administration reality.
And in keeping with the West Wing and its ongoing theme of patriotism, service, and leadership, I hope and believe that President-elect Obama will create an environment where people seriously stop and say, "I serve at the pleasure of the president."