This is a good day for America and so promising for its future. I'm struggling to find an apt way to put what I'm feeling. I'm not as articulate about it as I'd like, because I don't quite grasp it as something fully formed in my mind. But it's as if the fever with its delirium has broken, and while we still don't feel very well, and we're still weak and woozy lying there in sweat-soaked sheets, we feel that a shift has occurred--that we're going to get better. And all the people who care about us, sitting silently on vigil at our bedside, worried to death about whether we would pull through, are now chatting, smiling, and relieved. At least that's how I feel this evening, relieved and proud that Americans could deliver for this unlikely candidate such a resounding, decisive victory. We haven't chosen utopia; we've simply chosen health.
There is nothing but upside, and whatever the reasons--the economy, wanting to punish Bush, Sarah Palin, the war--Americans, whether they consciously intended it or not, have chosen to put the man in office who has the most potential to effect a necessary transition from a sick America to a healthier America. In the coming months and years deologues of the left and the right will complain and criticize about the particulars--and I will, too--but at a more fundamental level we have chosen to get better rather than to remain ill. And today that's all that matters.
We've been pluralist for a long time, but it has sickened us. It has been confusing and scary for so many people. The importance of this moment is not primarily Obama's potential to effect new, specific policies, liberal or otherwise--we will judge his effectiveness as policymaker and statesman four years or eight years from now--but now something already is significantly effected. We have turned a page in our understanding about American identity. And with that comes new possibilities that were unimaginable even a few years ago--especially in the aftermath of November 2004. The idea of those charming kids playing at home in the White House and out on the lawn--and that becoming something that all of us come to think of as normal--that this family is now to be our first family. It's just hit me how hugely significant that is.
"Real America", as the Sara Palins define it, has just been dealt a significant blow. Her party has relied on a narrow, primitive imagination of what it means to be an American, and its exponents will be pushed to the margins of relevancy as the new, but not yet realized, richer imagination about who we are pushes its way to the center. It's what we have always been; it's just that we haven't really been able to embrace it and to accept it, and really to celebrate it. Obama will help us to realize what America has always been in potentia and to be ok with it, and to move beyond all the ways old America has restricted us as a people.
I'm not saying that there won't be backwaters of resistance, but that we have just experienced a tipping point, and the things that seemed to matter so much to so many about race and ethnicity and Otherness will stop mattering. We've tipped over into another space where almost everyone will soon, maybe in two or three years, will be wondering why we ever thought or felt such things--the way it's hard for adults to remember what they felt and thought when they were children. It will become an irrelevancy. A significant majority of Americans have made the grownup choice. They have put aside their age old resentments and fears and have embraced competency and sanity. It's a good day for America.