Friends, four years ago, I congratulated my Republican friends on George W. Bush and company's hard-fought election victory. Today, I'm pleased to celebrate with my fellow Democrats and all Americans the historic win by Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. As a former political science major, a journalist, and a news junkie, it was thrilling to watch the final moments of the 2008 campaigns.
I thought that Sen. John McCain's concession speech was remarkably gracious, despite being marred by the booing of some his supporters when his former opponent was mentioned. Obama himself looked tired, no doubt emotionally exhausted after the recent death of his grandmother in Hawaii, but his public address to a crowd in Chicago hit the right notes of triumph, historical awareness, and acknowledgment of the sacrifices needed for the U.S. to turn around.
While I wasn't really aware of racism until my family moved from the Bronx to Westchester County, New York, as a Filipino/Belgian-American, the election of an African-American president still seems unreal. There were many times over the years when I thought that the U.S.'s original sins of slavery and racism would prevent anyone other than a Caucasian man from reaching the White House, and I'm glad to be proven wrong. Had the controversial Gov. Sarah Palin won as vice president, we would still mark social progress.
Obama is only seven years older than me, and his experience as a community organizer (while mocked by some foes) no doubt helped him raise a record amount of money, mobilize thousands of volunteers, and take advantage of new online opportunities. I also worked for Ralph Nader's NYPIRG as a project coordinator, so I'm proud of a fellow alumnus. During the long campaign, I donated money to the Democrats, and let's hope that their newfound power and wealth don't corrupt those swept into office by a public hoping for change amid economic recession and an inconclusive war on terrorism.
After watching the OK premiere of Legend of the Seeker, I watched the results come in, flipping television channels between PBS, BBC America, Fox News, and CNN, with some of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's humor on Comedy Central for good measure. Despite Democratic gains in Congress, the nation remains deeply and closely divided ideologically, as reflected by regional differences and various commentators. President-elect Obama and all of us face great challenges, but I hope that both liberals and conservatives can rationally debate their continuing differences while working toward policies for the common good.