Obama win a sign of American unity, progress

By Shane Levy

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Shortly after 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, after Sen. Barack Obama… ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Shortly after 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, after Sen. Barack Obama secured his place as the 44th president of the United States, I made a call to my parents. Both grew up during the 1960s and 1970s, when some of the most violent and hateful discriminatory acts against black people were virtually institutionalized. That same era in U.S. history, however, saw some of the most incredible, progressive and, at one point, unthinkable movements. ‘ ‘ ‘ Yet both my parents prefaced our discussion by saying that never in their lifetimes did they ever think that they would see a black man elected president. Perhaps growing up in a completely different time period prevented me from truly understanding the depth of their statements, but as I watched election coverage and saw black men and women erupt in tears of joy, I could not help but feel a sort of cathartic chill go through my body. ‘ ‘ ‘ Some pundits will point to the failed Bush administration and to the fact that 2008 was predisposed to be a ‘Democrat’s year,’ but that largely overlooks the historic achievement of Obama’s election to the nation’s highest office. ‘ ‘ ‘ As much as the 2008 presidential election was centered on the policies that each candidate would implement, at the core of Obama is his incredibly inspiring political character. ‘ ‘ ‘ Rarely throughout history have we seen a leader so capable of stimulating and motivating Americans of all age, race and economic status to come together in support of a collective goal. ‘ ‘ ‘ Names like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy almost immediately come to mind when one thinks of the great orators who have been president. In 2008, Obama, much like his predecessors, demonstrated the capability to stir crowds and incite hope in all Americans. ‘ ‘ ‘ Over the course of the Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy presidencies, some of their greatest accomplishments were started behind their powerful and unifying voice. Today, in a time when the United States desperately needs that beacon of hope and voice of unity to provoke change and reform, Obama has provided that in a most stirring fashion. For the first time in my brief political life, I have a leader in place who I firmly believe speaks to my principles and who I believe stands for and represents what is right in this nation. ‘ ‘ ‘ The election of Obama as the 44th U.S. president is, and this is a vast understatement, one of the greatest accomplishments in U.S. history. It not only illuminates how far we have come from a time, not so long ago, when blacks and whites could not even drink at the same water fountain, but also exhibits that when the United States is decidedly focused on accomplishing a goal, there is no force on earth that can prevent this nation from doing so. ‘ ‘ ‘ Just like Lincoln ended the most horrendous institution in U.S. history, just like Kennedy sent us to the moon, just like Lyndon B. Johnson ended years of institutionalized segregation, Obama’s election as the next president of the United States is another demonstration of the beauty of American democracy and shows when America is unified behind a common goal, unimaginable tasks can become reality. ‘ ‘ ‘ It is far too early to declare what sort of president Obama will be, and he surely faces monumental challenges. But more than any candidate in recent history, Obama has the potential to be an incredibly historic and groundbreaking leader. He has the potential and the capability to transform the United States from a nation stuck in the partisan and futile politics of old into a nation that effectively meets and honors the principles that this nation was built upon in the 21st century. ‘ ‘ ‘ The 2008 presidential election will show the world that it was the time the United States refused to let outmoded and partisan politics continue to run this country. It will show the world that it was the time when Americans decided that racial barriers could no longer continue to stymie this country’s progress, and it will show the world that the United States is still and will continue to be the symbol of hope and liberty that it has been throughout its history. Time will tell what comes of the Obama administration, but history will show that on Nov. 4, 2008, America’s voice rang loud and clear: Yes We Can and Yes We Did. E-mail Shane at [email protected].