Four reflections on the election

1. For the last eight years, we have had a president who is breathtakingly reckless on policy matters.  For the eight years before that, we had a president who was breathtakingly reckless on personal matters.  The country has suffered as a result of all of this recklessness.

Is it any surprise that one of Obama’s great strengths in this campaign is his calmness, that the country is drawn to his cool level-headed temperament?  Or that it is turned off by McCain’s fiery shoot-from-the-hip attitude, an attitude that suggests another four more years of recklessness?

I think we’re all ready for a little bit of steadiness.  I certainly know that I am.

2. One thing that I find fascinating in this campaign is the phenomenon of racists for Obama.  There’s been several reports of campaign workers going door to door and being told that the resident intends to “vote for the n****r.”  Things have gotten so bad that people are finally putting aside all those wedge issues and voting their own interest, and Obama’s race is the greatest wedge issue of them all.

3. I wonder sometimes if this country would have ever elected a black man if it weren’t for the great vortex of special circumstances in which we find ourselves now.  Two never-ending wars, a financial meltdown, a never-ending stream of executive incompetence over the last eight years: it’s taken an awful lot to get people to a point where race seems irrelevant, but history has provided.  And it should be easier next time.

4. I must admit: Obama’s race is not irrelevant for me.   IMHO, race is the centerpiece of the history of America.  It has always been the dark stain on our rhetoric about freedom, rhetoric that was often written by slaveholders.  It was the root cause of the Civil War, the American Illiad.  Even today, after that great war, after the great civil rights struggles, it still lingers as a central division in American life.

The 150th anniversary of the issuance of the final Emancipation Proclamation, that great document that eliminated slavery, will be on January 1, 2013.  I want to see a black president give a speech commemorating that moment.  Nothing would better symbolize how far we have come.  Nothing would provide a more hopeful next chapter in the great tragic tale of American race relations.  And it looks like I may get my wish.

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