The Day After

I’m riding on the train back to New York from a whirlwind two nights in DC.  On Monday night, I went with some friends to the Redskins-Steelers game – a Monday night tradition before Election Day – and the mood was electric.  Last night, after the results arrived and we watched Obama’s acceptance speech, we left The Willard and walked two blocks away to the White House.  On the street closest to the front of the house, thousands crowded the plaza to revel and celebrate.  All sorts of people – white, black, arab, asian – gathered to celebrate together.  On 16th Avenue, throngs of cars crowded the street forming a huge traffic jam of honking horns with people hanging out of windows and sunroofs, slapping high-fives to all who passed.  Never, in my 18 years of living in DC (which included several Super Bowl victories) did I ever see anything like last night.  It seemed like the whole country collectively exhaled.  Exhaled from nearly a decade of injustice and unpopular leadership.  Exhaled from the knowledge and reassurance that this country is still of and by the people.  Exhaled with rejoice in the confirmation that we live on a more level playing field today, where nearly any one individual can achieve any thing to which they commit themselves.  While I would have supported Obama regardless of his race, I do believe his victory represents a particularly special achievement for black men and women in the country.  Though there are plenty of racial injustices committed daily still, President Barack Obama and the Obama family will serve as role models with which black men and women can identify far better than any leader before.  I think that for the first time in our nation’s history, black men, women and children will truly feel that they have a voice and a leader who understands their position.  That is just an incredibly powerful occasion.  Moreover, Barack Obama is not just a role model for African Americans, but a role model for us all, and this reality should accomplish much to heal wounds within communities and reduce racial divisions.  Beyond our shores, some of the effects have already begun to be felt.  I received messages from friends in Europe with whom I hadn’t spoken in years.  Friends of friends from Spain showed up at our party, which was already attended by several expats, to help us celebrate.  CNN showed video from Kenya and Time reported on Desmond Tutu’s reaction from S. Africa, where a good friend, Tal, also commented as he watched from afar.  I truly believe that some of the “hate” directed towards us around the world softened last night and some of the militants rested their arms.  It’s just a lot harder to hate a country led by Barack Hussein Obama, than the one led by George Walker Bush.  There is a ton of work to do and Obama has just won an incredibly difficult job, but should he accomplish absolutely nothing during his term, the significance of his election will still remain.  It truly is a new morning in America.

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By Josh Guttman

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