The first official news announcing the historic occasion came to my email inbox:
News Alert 11:05 p.m. ET Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Barack Obama defeats John McCain to become first African American to win the White House.
McCain’s concession speech was eloquent, full of high rhetoric about honor, integrity, devotion, and perhaps most importantly, unity. In other words, the complete opposite of his campaign rhetoric. I doubt it will be enough to overcome the fear and hatred his campaign tactics have fomented. I hope I’m wrong. At least it was a return to the McCain that I knew and respected when I supported him in 2000 against the disaster that has been George W. Bush. I also hope Obama’s decisive victory means the death of the terrible, oppressive race-baiting tactics that Bush and Rove used against McCain during the 2000 Republican primary — tactics (along with the same advisors) that McCain ironically decided to use in 2008. May they Rest In Hell.
So celebrate. And then let’s button up and get to work. Because, as Obama stoically reminds us in his subdued victory speech, there’s a lot of work for us to do. Two things stand out in my mind, looking ahead:
- Obama will need to capitalize on a Democratic Senate majority and an imploding Republican party in order to enact an agenda to rebuild the USA: energy policy (greencollar jobs), affordable health care for all, tax policy to strengthen the fundamentals of our economy and, more importantly, the fabric of our society. A 60 seat, filibuster-proof senate isn’t necessary (especially if Democrats grow a backbone), although is still possible. Not so much this evening, but in the weeks and months ahead, considering strategic presidential appointments.
- More specifically, Obama and the Legislature must consider US farm policy a subset of sustainable energy policy and an issue of national security. An explosion of small scale, sustainable farmers and localized food production must comprise a substantial portion of the new “greencollar” jobs that Obama talks about. Otherwise, it will be impossible for us to achieve energy independence.
I suppose one extra thought: I have a friend who graduated from college a few years ago, and has a massive financial debts to repay, through no fault of his own. I strongly support Obama’s call for sacrifice and service for our communities and our country in exchange for the ability attain a higher education without becoming an indentured servant to an unjust and broken economy.
Maybe most importantly, to quote Jesse:
This marathon of a presidential campaign isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.
No president is going to single-handedly fix our problems or prevent them from being solved. That lies with us.
I know a lot of people who’ve taken an interest in politics and other current events this year where they haven’t before. If you’re one of those people, I’m going to make a plea to you, on my metaphorical hands and knees. Keep caring. Keep learning. Keep voting. Stay on top of it.
The real work starts on January 20, when the Bushies finally get the boot out of the White House and the next government starts to figure out where we go from here. You don’t need to be a news junkie to know our world and our country is in the process of getting seriously, seriously fucked. So stay in the know. It never hurts, it only helps. KEEP CARING ABOUT THIS WORLD. Nobody gets anything done otherwise. Not even Barack Obama.