Saturday, November 08, 2008

America is Respected Again

Although it is old news who won the election, the continuing news is the dramatic effect Obama’s win is having and will continue to have on not only this country but the world.

I was for Obama from the start, but I could have lived with a McCain presidency. McCain is very knowledgeable about how things work in Washington and he often was a maverick. But his continuing link with the canker sore in office now, coupled with the two major flubs he made during his campaign, cost him the election.

Those two flubs were picking Sarah Palin as his choice for vice-president, and the series of questionable decisions he made in the wake of Wall Street’s meltdown. His seemingly chaotic reaction was not presidential.

Still, I could have managed to support a McCain presidency. At least I would have given him a chance and stood behind him until he started to screw things up. And who’s to say that Obama will, in the end, be an effective president? We’ll know soon enough, but if he runs his administration the same way he ran his campaign then this country is in for years of extraordinarily effective leadership.

The biggest sigh of relief I gave when Obama won was not that a Democrat will soon be in power. I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican; I’m independent. It wasn’t even that I happen to agree with most of Obama’s policy positions. No, the biggest sigh of relief was because, at least for awhile, the faction of the voting public that kept Bush in office in 2004 got a huge national rebuke.

The fundamentalist evangelical conservative right, that albatross of society that has had a chip on its shoulder for the last eight years, has now been put in its place. Oh, the evangelicals are still out there, by the millions. They are at this moment planning and plotting their strategy to retake the government in 2012.

And this is not an anti-religion sentiment. Barack Obama is a professed Christian. The vast majority of Americans have a religion. It is the evangelicals, those who insist that snakes can talk and that people can really survive for three days inside a fish, who are the dangerous ones. It is they who have held the White House for eight years.

That is why those of us who use our human brain power to make decisions instead of relying on ancient mysticism must continue to be vigilant. We must be preemptive. We cannot afford to allow a George W. Bush clone, such as Sarah Palin, to ever ascend to power in this country again. Just look at the mess that was made of this country over the last eight years.

We had become the laughing stock of the modern world. Americans abroad had been shy about revealing their nationality. Some even said they were from Canada. Many who have been living overseas refused to fly the American flag, not because they are not proud of their country, but out of fear of being ridiculed.

From England to China, from Australia to the Middle East, expatriates, vacationers, and business travelers learned that it is best not to reveal that they are Americans. That had been especially true over the last four years.

But not anymore. Being an American is cool again, and not just in America. We are now seen as a society who has come to terms with its mistakes of four and eight years ago and who now is in the mood to make amends. We have elected a cosmopolitan leader who can unite all factions under a single banner. We are no longer a country of blue states and red states, but the United States.

Yes, I know there are still red states on the political map. But don’t look at the Electoral College map, even though it is turning seriously blue. Look at the map that CNN showed a couple of days after the election. It showed that, except for a very narrow strip of the country running roughly from Virginia through Arkansas, every county in every state was considerably bluer than it was four years ago. Nearly the whole country has made a giant shift toward pragmatism.

And that trend, which started in 2006, is a good sign that this country is beginning to leave behind the antediluvian antics of the religious right and is now starting to embrace tolerance, openness, and global citizenship. It’s a good trend.

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