We woke up this morning in a new world. Obviously it's all over the news and blogs everywhere but I have to add just a few more words to the mass. There is the obvious - we have elected the first African-American President in U.S. history. While that's historically important, to me it's less important than the man himself.
We watched his acceptance speech with tears running down our cheeks. It was so good to hear inclusion - everybody is part of this - and not the divisiveness we've heard for so long. There was recognition that we face huge challenges but also recognition that together, we can overcome them, that it will take effort from all of us to do so. When he used the word "we," he seemed to include all of us, "We," as in "We, the People," not the "royal" we.
I haven't been so impressed with or moved by a speech since JFK's inaugural address.
In fact Obama reminds me a lot of JFK, young, energetic, fresh. There is a power about him but also a humility.
He said, "But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you...This is your victory... I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead."
"Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, 'We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.'"
And there is one last great bit of symbolism and irony. Obama made his acceptance speech in Grant Park in Chicago. Forty years ago this past August, Grant Park was ground zero for the protests and riots during the Democratic National Convention in 1968. For those too young to remember, that was a time when the country was torn apart by the Vietnam War. For many years our country has been divided by fear-mongering and divisive "you're either with us or against us" politics. For Barack Obama, a Democrat, to make the inclusive speech he made there is all the more amazing.
Here's looking forward with hope. "Yes, we can."
Meanwhile on the island...in Puerto Rico, we observed our first election on the island. WOW! It was a holiday for most businesses, full of participatory electoral energy and passions like we have never seen before. Cars were painted on their windows and windshields with candidates names, flags of various candidates (used much more than anything like the bumper stickers we see in the states) were flown from houses, business, light poles and waving from cars loaded with people which drove through business areas and neighborhoods shouting and cheering for their favorite candidates. Vans and SUVs drove with doors slid open so that passengers (including children) could lean out and yell to pedestrians, people sitting on their porches, and passing cars alike. At our friends' home last night a dozen or so people met and gathered 'round the television cheering, arguing, and watching the latest election results as they came in. Even the 9-year-old got into the discussion about which policies and candidates "should win." In the end, we have a new governor on the island and the incumbent mayor of Isabela, "Charlie," also won while parties and debates continued until late in the evening!