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For The Ages

Mostly? Loved It!

he good news: at this point, it doesn't even need to be said, but that never stopped me. Talk about history. Someone pointed out that very, very few countries have elected or appointed someone of a racial minority to lead the country. The most obvious, prior to this, was Peru electing a man of Japanese descent (which didn't actually turn out too great for them). But no country near the size, power, or economy of the United States — well, there isn't one, but you know what I mean -- has done so. And yet I see something like this happen and I'm actually reminded of something Ronald Reagan quoted at the groundbreaking of his presidential library in Simi, California, from a letter someone had written to him not long before: "He said, you can go to live in another land — you can go to live in France, but you can't become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany, but you can't become a German. You can go to live in Japan or Turkey, and you cannot become Japanese or Turkish. But anyone, from any corner of the world, can come to live in the United States and become an American."

Leaving aside the Constitutional requirement that someone be born a citizen to become president, I'm still stunned at what it will say to the world on January 20 when, walking into any U.S. embassy anywhere in the world, visitors will see a photographic portrait of a son a Kenyan and a Kansan as America's president. Not only that, a man who still has relatives living today in both places. And yet, far from being born to a life of privilege, grew up to be elected the most powerful person in the world. That, to me, says more about what America means in the world as much as anything else we might say or write about our country or our history.

Thomas Friedman's article today was particularly excellent: which he says that "on Nov. 4, 2008, shortly after 11 p.m. Eastern time, the American Civil War ended, as a black man — Barack Hussein Obama — won enough electoral votes to become president of the United States."

Of course, not everyone is of the same mind. Paul Krugman's blog pointed out that some people (at least among those who write op-eds for the WSJ) think how President Bush has been treated by Americans only shows that we didn't deserve this great, great man:

On a more serious note, my excitement at yesterday's election results were tempered today to learn:

The Oklahoma state legislature is now controlled in both chambers by Republicans. (In this election, no less.) That is the first time since statehood that has been true. And in a state that is 11th out of 51 (including DC) in the percentage of people living in poverty and 8th in the nation for teenage pregnancies. (Not to mention 15th in the country for babies born to teenage and unwed mothers overall.) Of course, the reason I bring all this up about Oklahoma is because no state voted more firmly for McCain this election than Oklahoma. The one (admittedly lame) saving grace I can find in this fact is that Obama didn't lose Oklahoma any worse than Kerry did. Which means, maybe, that Oklahomans are against progress more than they're against black people? Yay, progress! Or, rather...yay, anti-progress?

More importantly—because I mostly (but sadly) expected those results from Oklahoma—I'm really bummed about the results on constitutional propositions in California, Arizona and Florida about marriage—with California the most prominent. Enshrining bigotry into the state constitutions of California, Arizona and Florida definitely felt like a slap in the face, hard enough to draw blood. Arizona was one thing; but that California and Florida could turn their back on racism but still vote for homophobia is kind of a tough thing to accept. I understand that these things improve over decades and even generations. But that didn't make those votes any less a slap and spit in the face. They weren't the first states to vote that way, but I'd hoped they wouldn't be the last. Now I guess I have to hope they are the last.


  1. Hey dude, yeah, this is sort of weird, I stumbled on your blog while looking for sheet music...weird, I know. But I agree with you about CA - I live in SF myself and so honestly in my little secluded town I had no idea that gay marriage was even in question. SF is undoubtedly one of the most liberal cities in the US, so it never came to me that the cities inland would be so close-minded. We are an incredibly diverse state, but a lot of the blame was put on how religion of many of our minorities (Blacks & Hispanic Catholics) opposed gay marriage, and therefore failed to comply with the necessary separation of church and state.


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