The never-ending series of presidential and vice-presidential job interviews is over, and our hiring decision has been made. And so has history. Democrat or Republican, American or not, people are feeling a sense of awe and amazement that a black man has been elected president of the United States. People all over the world are feeling a new sense of possibility.
Hoping for a wider perspective on the issue, I called my 73-year-old dad. (We're white, by the way.) He's Canadian, but he lived, worked, and raised a family in suburban Chicago between the '60s and the '90s – prime time and location for civil rights events. He clearly remembers the riots, assassinations, busing, all of it. I asked him what he thought of this momentous election, and what Canadians were saying about it.
He started to talk about the sense of renewed respect for America and American ideals, and how people everywhere feel as if a door has been opened. He said one of the most moving moments for him, what made him "lose it," was seeing Jesse Jackson crying. Because for all his faults (and there are many), Jesse has been there fighting since the days of Martin Luther King. Just thinking about it got him misty again.
As we talked, Dad was having trouble pulling himself together. (He's the first to admit he's a crier.) He kept saying, simply, through his tears, "It's a good day."
He lives in Canada now, so it's not the politics he's talking about. It's about barriers being lifted, principles being put into action, and a renewed sense that anything's possible. In that sense, it's a good day, indeed.
So Senator Obama, you're hired. Between now and Inauguration Day, I hope you'll enjoy the traditional honeymoon period of a new hire (punctuated by a few meetings where they get you up to speed on some rather important stuff.) Talk about new employee orientation! Enjoy it, because once you start, it won’t be an easy job. There will be huge crises waiting for you from Day 1. But you've already overcome obstacles that, until now, seemed insurmountable. And you'll have lots of help, including that of the good Senator McCain, who set a very classy example when he referred to you as "my president."
Good luck with the new job, Mr. President-Elect! We'd like you to start on January 20th.
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