2008 Election:† Itís a New Day and a Positive New Direction!

by Diane Brandon

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I can't tell you how excited I was last night as I was watching the election returns for our Presidential election.† Even though I knew I was firmly for Obama, I was surprised by how strong and deep my reaction was when he was declared the President Elect:† very powerful feelings and memories flooded me.

How did we get to this moment and what might it mean?

 

Paving the Way

 

Some of you may remember what I shared after the Supreme Court put Bush in the White House in 2000.† At that time, I tuned in and asked why he would be President, at a time when I felt that we should be moving forward.† The answer I received was that "he had to be President in order to show people that the old way of doing things no longer works."

I thought of this a couple of years ago and felt that this was exactly what was unfolding:† people were starting to see through the Bush administration that we couldn't keep doing things the "old" way.

Last night I realized that all of this paved the way for a man like Obama.† Had people not been so disgusted by how things were going in this country and our international relations under the Bush regime, they may not have been ready to vote for someone like Obama.† A groundswell of feeling and readiness was needed.† And, thanks to Bush, we had that groundswell.

Historic Election

Many people are excited about Obama's election because they see it as historic because he's considered to be the first "black" elected President.† Indeed TV news coverage last night went to historically black sites, such as Harlem, Spellman College, etc., to show the jubilant reaction among blacks in each place.

I'm of two minds about this.† First of all, Obama is not strictly black.† He's both black and white.† By focusing on one aspect of his ethnicity, we're not seeing him in his totality.† He's both, a wonderful amalgam of both races.† Furthermore -- and more importantly -- when we focus on his ethnicity, we are ignoring his inner qualities, which to me are what helped to get him elected.† And, for some people, it was necessary for them to be able to see past his being partly black for them to vote for him.

That said, another part of me also rejoiced in the fact that a man who is partly black could be elected President.† In my first groundswell of emotional reaction last night when he was declared President Elect, I found myself thinking over and over again, "We did it!"† Memories flooded back to me from the 60s and 70s and tears came to my eyes.

I have always found it difficult to understand how we could condemn or lump others into a category based upon their skin color or nationality or other superficial trait.† While it is true that we all have some racial or cultural bias due to our upbringing, the larger parts of our minds -- and consciences -- should be able to move past this.† For whatever reason, I was a proponent of civil rights.† My high school in New Orleans was the first public high school in the city to be integrated and my class there was the first to be so.† We had no problems (it was a high school for nerds after all), and I got to know some blacks for the first time as friends.

Duke was integrated when I got there and I was actually in the first protest ever held at Duke.† It took place after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and we held a silent vigil on the main quad for several days.† It was peaceful and is still called The Vigil.

So some of the memories that flooded back to me last night were of that long struggle -- and my participation in it -- for equal rights and for seeing other people as people.

That said, I would still say that it would be helpful for us to see Obama as a man and for who he is on the inside, irrespective of his ethnicity.

 

†††††††††††† †††††††††††† †††††††††††† †††††††††††† †††††††††††† †††††††††††† †††††††††††† (Continued)

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