Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cleaning House

This morning I am proud to be an American, proud of my country for the first time in eight long years. Yesterday we rocked! Unprecedented numbers of Americans of all ages and backgrounds went to the polls and rejected the Bush/Cheney/Neocom politics of deception, fear, divisiveness, war-mongering, and greed. We rejected the anti-democratic Bush/Cheney efforts to shred our Constitution and establish a fascist police state. After eight years of trying to scare us to death, Bush was felled by his own petard – a crashing economy driven by unregulated corporate greed. Yesterday, Americans said “Enough!”

In a stunning outpouring of outrage and hope, Americans suffering losses of homes, jobs, retirement funds, and lack of healthcare, gave George Bush, Dick Cheney & Company, the boot. We cleaned house. Thanksgiving has come early.

By this extraordinary election, the majority of American voters also turned a page on the racism that for almost four centuries has brutalized, divided and dishonored our people and made a mockery of the promise of our Constitution. The election of Barack Obama is the closest we have ever come to fulfilling that promise of democracy, equality under the law, and justice for all.

I looked at the throng of people in Chicago’s Grant Park as they waited for President-elect Obama to speak. Young, old, black, white, Asian, Hispanic – faces lit with hope and tears of happiness that this moment -- Obama’s moment, America’s moment -- was actually happening. I could hardly believe it myself.

Obama’s mixed heritage is so profoundly American, reflecting our racial diversity, our demographic reality, our African and European history embodied in this young man who fearlessly seized the moment to undergo the grueling months of campaigning for President. And he has been tested. For almost two years, he steadfastly prevailed against an onslaught of malicious attempts to smear his character and defeat his candidacy. But the smear campaign backfired. In his steadfast refusal to stoop to his opponents’ sleaze level, Obama revealed his true character – calm, steady, focused on the issues – the kind of leader we need for the problems and crises that confront the nation. At last, we have a leader for our time, a man with a vision of our better selves and what we can become. A man who is not tied or beholden to past failed policies and bankrupt ideas. In his endorsement, General Colin Powell called Obama a “transformational figure.” And our country desperately needs transforming.

For eight years we have endured an administration that tried to dumb down America. The Bush/Cheney administration must surely rank as one of the most anti-intellectual -- if not the most anti-intellectual -- government in American history. This was a president who ridiculed science, censored scientific reports, and rejected facts whenever fantasy and lies better fit White House propaganda.

Inauguration day, January 20, 2009, cannot come too soon. It will be wonderful at last to have an intelligent leader in the White House, a leader who understands the complexity of our world, who commands global respect, who opposed the most reckless, unnecessary war in America’s history, who is not afraid to negotiate, who respects women’s right to reproductive choice, who supports science, and has compassion for the poor and empathy for the forgotten middle class.

In his speech to America last night, Obama said his election demonstrates that “government of the people, by the people, for the people has not perished from the Earth.” But we had a close call. It was on its way to extinction under the imperial Bush/Cheney administration. With President Obama, there is hope for protecting our Constitution, ending illegal assaults on our privacy, restoring international respect for our country, stopping the plunder of our national treasury to benefit greed-driven corporations, and investing in America’s greatest treasure – its people. Healing our nation and repairing the damage of the Bush/Cheney years will be difficult but not impossible. President-Elect Obama says, “Yes, we can.” Yesterday, we made a start!

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