There are certain landmark moments in one's life. The election of JFK. His assassination. The death of RFK. The loss of Martin Luther King, Jr. The moon landing. 9/11. I remember them all very vividly.
Last night I witnessed another incredible American moment -- the election of Barack Obama as our next president. Now whether you are Democrat, Republican or Independent, this election has had considerable meaning to you. According to the numbers, 130 million Americans voted, the most to ever vote in a presidential election. Give yourself a High Five.
You went to the polls to tell Washington and the world what you wanted. This incredible nation is in turmoil. We have our soldiers dying on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Our financial future is murky. Over 40 million of us do not have basic health insurance. We have slid so far away from the American ideal and the basic tenets of our Constitution. Now we, as a nation, have a chance to recapture what makes us grand.
I had hopes that this election would bring us a leader who might see beyond politics, who had vision, much like FDR did in 1932 during some of our nation's darkest hours. I do believe that our next president has that spark, that intelligence, that empathy to bring us out of this black moment and set us on a new path. He may not have the track record of Mr. McCain, but he has the good sense to seek sound advice, to weigh it and then move forward. The nation didn't need a maverick. It needs a statesman with deft hand at building consensus. Mr. Biden will serve as a bridge between our new leader and his fellows in Congress. That was something Ms. Palin would never have accomplished.
Now in the past I have always held John McCain in high regard. Something happened to him during the campaign that damaged his reputation in my eyes. I began to take notice of this campaign the moment he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Her narrow minded, Us vs. Them, provincial view of America was profoundly disturbing. Rather than being inclusive, she was divisive. Her knowledge of the world scene was woefully inadequate. Unfortunately, Mr. McCain went for the lowest common denominator who proceeded to question not only their challengers' patriotism, but mine.
So here's my advice for the governor. Go home to Alaska, Sarah. Learn something about this great country before you come back to run for 2012. Learn about the world. And know one thing for certain: people who don't agree with you aren't any less patriotic than those who do.
Last night I saw a glimpse of the Mr. McCain I once admired. He delivered a profoundly moving concession speech. It was full of honor, of love for this country. You regained a lot of respect, sir, and I thank you for that.
I'll admit it -- I haven't been very proud of my country in the last eight years. Some would say that is not being patriotic, but I disagree. That's honesty. We aren't always proud of our children when they make mistakes, but we still love them. I had never believed that an African-American could rise to such high office. The American ideal holds. Anyone can become president. This morning I can see lots of mothers eying their kids over the cereal bowl. "See?" they'll say. "You can do anything!" And those moms would be right.
Our citizens have spoken. What a remarkable testimony to this great and democratic nation. Let's heal the divide, roll up our sleeves and get the work done. That's what Americans do. We need to become that beacon of hope, like we once were.
G*d Bless America! And may G*d bless our new president and vice-president. They're going to need every bit of help they can get.