Obama Wins! Yes We Can, Yes We Did, And I’m So Proud

Never have I been so happy to be an American, never so proud to look at my daughter, Mimi, who is almost seven, and say to her, “remember this night for as long as you live. Tonight Americans have done something extraordinary, historic, brave, and long-overdue. We have elected a president who isn’t white.”

The story of Obama’s election is a gift for Mimi and her sisters. They’re not white either, and an Obama presidency will be a reminder to them that, when our nation is functioning properly (which, by no means is all of the time), a person need not be white to enjoy the limitless possibilities this land has to offer.

The election of Barack Obama is no less important for me and for my wife and for our son who, like us, is white. By electing Barack Obama, Americans have rejected the sin of racism. The Obama presidency will not erase the stain of America’s record on race—it cannot undue slavery, Jim Crow, or the Chinese Exclusion Act—but it will tear down some of the barriers that limit some of us and separate all of us, and for that, I am proud.

I am proud also because the election of Barack Obama restores America’s leadership role in the international community. For too long, the United States, when it has led the world, has led in the wrong direction. We’ve led the world’s financial markets into recession, we’ve led the world into an idiotic war in Iraq, and while waging that war, we’ve led the world away from the international laws and agreements that attempt to mitigate the cruelty of war; we’ve led the world in conspicuous consumption and in cultural expressions that pander to the lowest common denominator. For most of my adult life, but especially during the last eight years, the American legacy has been one of air-headed, concupiscent, war mongering. Now Americans, listening to our better angels, have done something no military superpower or international economic powerhouse has ever done: we’ve handed the tiller of State to someone who is from a racial and ethnic minority community.

This is good not just for America. It is good for a planet where ethnic conflict is on the rise. The election of an American president who is black won’t be a magical fix, but it may make a few people stop and think: if folks in the United States can overcome the legacy of slavery and segregation to elect a President with African blood, perhaps we can look past the pain of our historical divisions too.

It’s a dream, to be sure, but then, two years ago the thought that a black man named Barack Hussein Obama might be greeted by a military band playing “Hail to the Chief” was beyond hallucinatory.

Sometimes dreams do come true.

19 thoughts on “Obama Wins! Yes We Can, Yes We Did, And I’m So Proud

  1. Amen. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt hope for the possibility of pride in my country. I feel a tremendous sense of relief. I’ll sleep well tonight.

  2. Hurray hurray !
    We share your pride and joy and hope.
    It’s wonderful, for us, our kids, for our grandkids, and our world.
    Barb and Hugh

  3. Congratulations to us all! I can’t wait for my next trip abroad to boast about my new president.

  4. I’m so happy that our country does not have to be dominated by white male leadership. I hope we as a country can make our founding fathers proud in the coming four or more years! I also hope that someday Christianity won’t be so heavily shadowed by the white male as well!

  5. Tears of joy flowed in our house, too. Not just because the American voters were brave enough to elect a non- (actually half-) white president, but also because American voters recognized and rewarded and are ready to rely on a president who’s intelligent, educated, and eloquent, not to mention charismatic. He has earned the right to earn our support. I hope this nation will accept his invitation and challenge, because hopes are high and there’s a lot of work to be done.

  6. I just keep getting happier.

    We’ll be singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in church on Sunday. It is a hymn written by two brothers who were instrumental in founding the NAACP. Seems appropriate.

    Thanks to all of you.

  7. Oh Ben. Seeing your article in my IN box this morning made me smile even more broadly. Last night was unbelieveable, miraculous and too rare. It is the hope of social justice actually rolling down like water all over our country. Bless you for weighing in right away.

    I pray this bright, over-achieving man who surrounds himself with even brighter people, can make right all the wrongs that have been done in the past eight years. Yes, it is the biggest achievement for children to see: that the unbelievable is possible in our country, that major social wrongs can get overturned, that justice can be done. Seeing Jesse Jackson last night said it all for me. He has seen it all, and was present for the miracle at the end of a long, long, rough road. Amen.

  8. Yes, Virginia, there is God. And there is a President Obama. May he do well and lead this country with wisdom and grace. And may we all be better citizens because of his leadership.

    “Dear God,

    Watch over our president and his family. Help him to choose good citizens to advise and help him lead our nation among the nations of the world. Help him to use his many gifts well in the pursuit of peace, properity and our common pursuit of happiness and opportunity of all God’s children. Selah!”

  9. There are several points to be made about this election and its outcome — random election reflection, if you will, from a conservative political junkie who is not overjoyed at the results.

    1. Yes, Obama’s election is historic. More important, it represents a sea change; the country appears to have gone from center-right to center-left. Time will tell how long this will last, and the amount of damage we will incur and endure in the interim.

    2. No more whining, please, about arrogance, incompetence, or anything else real or imagined about the Bush years — and curiously, such noise always seems to ignore the fact that hard-left Democrats have controlled Congress for two years. But the left now controls all the levers of power. The blame stops, and the buck stops, at Obama’s desk. What are he and his minions going to do?

    3. As you know, Ben, I have always been very skeptical of the presumed power of the religious right, and have long felt its clout was grossly over-stated.

    That said, among other things this election was a referendum on that power (although that element was studiously ignored by a media smitten with Obamamania). McCain’s stances on social issues such as abortion were right from the religious right’s playbook. Sarah Palin reportedly is an evangelical who attends an Assembly of God church. Notwithstanding endorsements from evangelical outfits and even mass mailings to mainline ministers by the lunatic religious fringe, Obama and the Democrats polled their largest majority since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. No doubt the religious right will still be able to elect the occasional city commissioner in places like Topeka, but let’s put to rest the specter of such clout nationally.

    4. Obama is perhaps the penultimate speechifier of our time, but read the speeches and pronouncements as words on paper, and there’s not much of substance. Truth be told, the man’s resume is remarkably thin — arguably thinner, in fact, than Ms. Palin’s. As a nation we have bought the sizzle. I truly hope we also get steak.

    Bill

  10. I rejoice with you over the Obama landslide. Three times in my
    lifetime, I have seen political breakthroughs, not counting FDR’s
    election when I was too young to vote, but nevertheless recall the
    lift he brought to the nation. Two wins, and one loss but still
    making obsolete a barrier to running for President. The loss was
    Adlai Stevenson’s race in 1952 and ’56. One of the stigmas he
    couldn’t overcome, in addition to being an intellectual, was the
    fact he was divorced. Then came the dashing of the barrier when
    John Kennedy won in the face of great worry that he was Catholic.
    Now the most difficult one of all, Obama with his multi-racial
    background and the racial prejudice still dominating all those southern red states. I’m sure he is the person for this very
    difficult time in our country and the world. He will be in my
    prayers for the hard task ahead. Today I am just going to
    enjoy the victory and glow!!

  11. In January 2008, after emigrating from the Philippines when I was fourteen, I became a citizen of the United States. Despite that gift and privilege, I found it difficult to call myself an American. I was always an American Citizen – not an American. Somehow after last night, something changed.

    Three weekends prior to the election, I decided to visit Obama headquarters along with Ben’s sister, Anna. There we began to make phone calls to swing states. Perhaps that’s when the shift began. Perhaps that’s when I started becoming an American, paralleling the shift that happened to this country only to culminate last night.
    Coming from a country where the integrity of the voting process has been compromised, I finally realized that I’m living in a country where the people’s voice can be heard, and where one person’s vote can actually change the future. Hard to imagine after eight years.

    I think it’s important to remember that this is not Obama’s time but OUR time. It seems so idealistic, but I believe that the responsibility in healing this nation doesn’t reside solely with Obama regardless of what his resume says or his speeches proclaim. Maybe Obama will be a lousy president, maybe he’ll be great. Honestly, we don’t really know, but what it showed me is the amazing potential that America has for change and possibility.

    I am grateful to this man for showing us that together we truly can bring about healing and change. That healer and visionary is in all of us. This is our nation to heal, our government to change. We got to say last night what we’ve been feeling all along. Last night’s election results were just a loud confirmation of that.

    So to my fellow Americans, I can now finally say I am a fellow healer, an American and proud to be one.

    Jay

  12. There can not be enough hallelujahs and amens for what happened last night and for this fine article. Finally, we can really demonstrate to ourselves and the world that we have judged someone “by the content/quality of their character rather than by the color of their skin.” I can’t imagine a more powerful and positive statement for us to make to ourselves or to members of the world community.

    Last night, Charlie Rose had an interesting panel of folks speaking to issues associated with the election of Obama. One of the best statements came from Bernard-Henri Levy, a French writer and political/cultural commentator. He said that an attendee at an Obama rally said the following to him:
    ” Rosa Parks sat down so Martin Luther King could march so Barack Obama could run and Obama was elected so that America could soar.” I can think of nothing more to add to this. So, thank you Ben!

  13. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Owner/My%20Documents/Anna’s%20docs/Anna’s%20Pics/Joy_Barack_Anna-1.jpg

  14. Ben,

    Sorry about that last comment! Whoops!

    Anyway, needless to say, I, too, am quite delighted at the outcome of the presidential election. If Obama mangages to run the executive branch of the government half as well as he ran his campaign, we hired the best candiate for the job for sure.

  15. Thank you, all of you for joining the celebration that is this blog!

    Jay, as the newest citizen who has commented, your comments are much appreciated.

    Bill, I think VDH is a fine classics scholar.

    Ben

  16. In 1935 Langston Hughes, the “Black Bard of Harlem” wrote the poem “Let America be America Again.” He ends that beautiful, powerful poem thus:
    O, yes,
    I say it plain,
    America never was America to me,
    And yet I swear this oath–
    America will be!..

    Obama and his election is a symbol, to all Americans, but especially to Americans of color, of the promise and hope of America, which we have not seen in a long time.

    Ben, thanks for your post and your thoughts.

    Joey

  17. One can pick up a whole bucket of sour grapes and continue to have puckered lips… why not let them lie and suck the sweetness of the new crop. Or at least try a sip or too!

    Harry

  18. Joey,

    Thanks for the Hughes poem. Here’s the hymn with which we closed our service on Sunday:

    “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James and John Johnson

    Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
    Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
    Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
    Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
    Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
    Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
    Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
    Let us march on till victory is won.

    Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
    Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
    Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
    Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
    We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
    We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
    Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
    Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

    God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
    Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
    Thou who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
    Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
    Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
    Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
    Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
    True to our God, true to our native land.

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