Friday, January 04, 2008


"Sometimes, just sometimes, there are nights like this."

I respect the opinions of my readers who have different politics, but I'd like them to consider that this

is bigger than politics. This is not just (political) history; this is affirmation of our deepest values as a people--something I had come to fear we might have started down the darkening, descending way to losing.

I can't tell you how happy I am to be living to see this--not as an Obama supporter or as a Democrat, but as a citizen of this country.

If anyone is interested, back in March when it seemed to me that people didn't "get," at a fundamental level, what Obama was/is about, I wrote a couple of longish posts about why I think Obama matters; those posts are here and here.

Okay: back to more posts on Winne-the-Pooh and such.

UPDATE (Saturday, January 5): Alas, some few are happy about the Iowa results for very different reasons.


Joel said...

The numbers indicate that much of Obama's support came from younger voters. I'm teetering on the edge of being in the 18-to-34 demographic -- I turn 35 in a couple of months -- but here's something I can tell you. We were born AFTER the Civil Rights movement; it's simply not part of our political memory. We grew up in a time when Martin Luther King Jr. was revered, we were told in the classrooms that our black neighbors had as big a share in the blessings and governance of America as any white person, and overt racism was no longer acceptable in civilized society.

Now I'm not naive. I know there's plenty of non-overt racism to be found out there, that all our racial problems have not been solved. But you have two generations of voters out there now who grew up immersed in a culture that suggested to us a black man would win the presidency someday. People my age and younger aren't unaware of the significance of Obama's victory; we're just not so surprised.

John B. said...

Thanks for coming by and for your comment.

You're right, of course. What makes Obama's candidacy and politics so unfamiliar to those invested in Conventional Wisdom regarding how black politicians are "supposed" to practice politics is that (tarring broadly with a brush here) the demographic you speak of (and I, being 10 years older than you, will go ahead and include myself in there as well, since I have clear memories of, for example, various desegregation battles (literal as well as figurative) that nevertheless seemed necessary regarding their ends if not appropriate in their means) isn't represented in/by the MSN in significant numbers. The MSN's narrative(s) on race are still shaped by the events of the '50s and '60s, just as you say.

So: I know (or, more accurately, I had hopes) that that narrative would eventually change. THAT part of Obama's win doesn't surprise me. What I'm thrilled by is that I'm actually alive--and sooner than I had thought it would--to begin to see it change.

R. Sherman said...

I disagree with Mr. Obama on issues, but I am pleased to see him do well. While there will certainly be troglodytes who dislike him because of the hue of his skin, the truth is, neither his supporters nor his detractors care.

I wonder whether he scares "the establishment," and by that I don't mean old white males, but the alte Kaempfer of the Civil Rights movement, because his message strikes at the core of the current incarnation of the movement. Simply stated, he stands for the proposition that the War is won. There may be an occasional skirmish, but in reality the Civil Rights struggle has been in the "mop up" phase for a long time.

I am reminded of a story the EMBLOS told me a few years ago when she taught middle school. She had a student of a biracial couple in her class and she was instructing on the Civil War and Slavery. Her students were astounded and one asked, "But Mrs. Sherman, you're saying Seth would have been a slave!?!" The just didn't get it.

Mr. Obama stands for the proposition that its time to move forward, and that includes being able to disagree with each other on the merits without being accused of improper motives.

Sorry for rambling.


John B. said...

Randall, yes to all. I've seen in my classes--thankfully--a fundamental incomprehension of not just slavery but social segregation. Of course, as I suggested in another way in my comment to you on the Huck Finn post, that fundamental incomprehension makes teaching some things harder to do. In a weird way, though, that's a nice problem to have.

As for your first paragraph above, have a look at this, via Andrew Sullivan's blog this morning--and, significantly, who says it:

But a man who could not have used certain restrooms forty years ago is in the center ring, not as a freak in the manner of Alberto Fujimori or Sonia Gandhi, nor even as a faction fighter in the style of Jesse Jackson, but as a real player. One of our great national sins is being obliterated, as the years pass, by the virtues of our national system. I don't agree with Obama and I don't particularly like him, but I am proud of this moment - Rick Brookhiser (of National Review Online)

A whole lot of people are saying much the same thing. How cool is that? Far fewer people would be saying this sort of thing if Obama were cut from the same cloth as, say, Jesse Jackson 9and that's in response to your second paragraph).

Curtis Faith said...

I believe this is important for the whole world. I moved back from Buenos Aires, Argentina to help him on the campaign. The rest of the world is watching.

Iowa did not surprise me because I've been watching the Obama supporters on the ground. I knew they were going to show up in droves.

My small independent film company was on the ground in New Hampshire, New York City, South Carolina and Iowa from August to October trying to capture the spirit of the movement we saw on the ground. The documentary is 68 minutes long and comes in nine parts. We hosted it on because it was filmed in HD and blip has the best quality playback. I expect to have it on YouTube and Google video soon as well.

Our blog has the details if anyone is interested: