How to Spend the Honeymoon

Nov 09

It came together spontaneously, the rally at Lafayette Park across from the White House, even before the concession speech by John McCain.  The crowd was multiracial, but the vast majority was white.  And young.  Lustily cheering “O-BA-MA, O-BA-MA,” they were from a generation aching for a reason to hope. These young Americans were responding to Barack Obama’s clarion call to abandon cynicism and the politics of division that Karl Rove and the Republicans had perfected as an art form over the last two decades.                 The joy of victory – and a decisive one at that – caught up people throughout this vast country in a collective outpouring that for a few hours and probably a few more days will dispel the fears of joblessness and economic collapse that is literally around the corner.  Many overcame the residual racial fears, in the past successfully stoked by the right, to throw in their lot with a 47-year-old African American who offered not so much a detailed program as an earnest promise to toss into the ash-heap of history eight years of doctrinaire free-market policies that had led to the evaporation of their jobs and communities.               Obama had asked people to vote their hopes, while John McCain sought to mobilize their fears.  But fear and hope came together in a way that squeezed out the Republicans:  people inspired by Obama to enter a new post-partisan era came together with those who feared being driven to economic destitution by four more years of the Republican ideology of greed.  Perhaps the most effective slogan, which Obama repeated tirelessly everyday throughout the last three months, was that a McCain victory would mean four more years of George Bush.               For this columnist, that one hour of being part of a communal outpouring at Lafayette Park was a personal catharsis. It was the fusing of several feelings:  exhilaration that Americans had elected a Black man president, happiness that the bums that had brought so much misery to the world were finally being tossed out like the garbage they are, a strange but nice feeling of celebrating at a site where so often in the past I had stood in angry protest...

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