Around 11 p.m. last night, Senator Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. When I stopped watching, the electoral count was 333-156 (though the popular vote was much closer), a huge, though unsurprising, win for the Democrats.
This was a historic presidential race. With a president with dismally low approval ratings having been in office for the last 8 years, with huge economic and foreign policy issues facing the country, and with an African American on one ticket and a woman on the other, there's little doubt that this was the most watched, the most exciting, and the most controversial race in years and for probable years to come.
I will confess that (though I can't vote yet) I supported McCain, enough to wear a McCain sticker all day yesterday. But, surprisingly, I was not hugely disappointed by the news that Obama had won. Strangely, seeing the words "Sen. Barack Obama elected 44th president of the United States" and hearing the crowds scream all across the country was almost exhilarating. Why? Because at the end of Election Day, at the end of every day, we're all Americans. No matter who we voted for yesterday, we can (and must) put our differences aside and remember that united we stand, divided we fail. Life isn't really about partisan preferences or politics, and there comes a time when, somehow, the differences between us suddenly don't seem quite so important.
Barack Obama made history yesterday. He has inspired millions of Americans with his eloquent, well-delivered speeches on change, and he will continue to inspire for the next four years. Do I agree with him on everything? No. Will he make a good president? That remains to be seen. but the point is - similar to the way former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani put it - no matter who wins each election, American needs to stand behind them. It won't do this country any good if we can't put our differences aside for once and fully support our 44th president, now that we know who he is.
I have another confession to make: I cried all the way through McCain's gracious concession speech. (To put this into perspective, I have never actually cried during any movie.) But I don't think I was crying simply because McCain lost (how lame would that be?!); it was for many reasons.
It was because an African American made history and effectively ended America's infamous era of racial prejudice by becoming our president. It was because of how hard both candidates had worked and how much support Americans had given them. It was because of the crowd in New York City that could put aside their partisan differences and celebrate America's new president, and new beginning, side by side - whether or not he was the candidate they had voted for. It was because after months of campaigning, after months of intense media coverage, scrutiny, and *cough cough* rather obvious bias, the whole thing is finally and very suddenly over (I mean, gee, what is Newsweek going to talk about now?). It was because John McCain, an American hero, had worked so hard on the chance to be president more than once and for several years - but today, he's probably just glad the whole thing's over. it was because after two months of media punches and overwhelming[ly wrong] popular opinion against her, Sarah Palin will suddenly head out of the spotlight and go back to being Alaska's governer, without the title of vice president. And, I think most of all, it was because we are all Americans - diverse, wonderful, crazy Americans who made history yesterday and who will continue to make history every day.
One more thing. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God knows exactly what He's doing. While, to some of us last night, it may not have seemed like it, it's still true. However future president Obama leads America, it's all in God's hands. Knowing that was also part of the emotion tonight. This election just reaffirmed my sometimes-shaky belief that I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow. And because of that, I can rest totally assured that my past is forgiven and my future is intact - so I can live purely in the here and the now.
Today, the here and the now is the celebration of Barack Obama's election to the presidency. I sincerely wish him all the luck (and the wisdom) in the world. May America bless God and God bless America.