The Obama era begins

Barack Obama has won in a landslide and will soon be at the helm of this nation. Thank all powers, large and small, for that.

A new era is beginning, which, based on my experience, I can only liken to the Kennedy presidency, when a generation of young people felt a dawning of a new world in which their work, their dreams and their ideals, mattered. Public service was the ultimate job. Governing in a democracy was the most honorable vocation. Justice was the light that led the way in dark moments.

I expect to have many issues with the policies, the compromises, that Obama will bring forward. But I trust that he is the perfect person to lead this country, indeed “the free world,” at this moment, with its many and considerable problems.

I only hope that the majority of those who supported someone else will be able to find the strength and good will to come to terms with the new world that a President Obama represents.

The job Obama has sought and today has gained is by nature the most difficult in the world, but now its difficulties have been multiplied exponentially by the misguided values and incomparable incompetence of George W. Bush. Although I am not religious, I will be literally praying that Obama has and can maintain the courage, the intelligence, the temperment and the skill that he will need to navigate this perilous sea.

That his victory has historical ramifications beyond all that was evident in the faces of the people at victory parties across the county who were shown by MSNBC during their coverage. Jesse Jackson (the first black man I voted for) and Oprah Winfrey were shamelessly crying. A woman in Harlem was brought to her knees. Students at Spellman College were radiating disbelief and joy.

In his acceptance speech, Obama referred to a woman in Atlanta who, at 106 years old, voted for Obama. Her life has stretched through three centuries, and she’s seen amazing changes, many of them critical and not to be diminished. But the meaning of having a person who looks like you in the most important position in the world cannot be equaled. Many white men, who take for granted their birth-given rank in the world, have a hard time understanding these symbolic mileposts.

But today is the first day of a new reality. And now we all have to live up to it. Celebrate, cry, pray; then get to work with more passion and purpose than ever before.