Every American woke up on Wednesday one step closer to grace.
With the nomination of Barack Obama, the Democratic Party continued its long history of finding ways to bring a racially divided nation together, and it did it in a way that builds on the hopes and dreams of tens of millions of engaged, voting Americans.
All of this would be maudlin in any other context, but on Wednesday morning, Americans woke up in a world where a black man was in a position to take on the mantle of President of the United States of America.
What’s more, that man has all the charisma, experience and ability to be a great president and, over time, a remarkable world leader.
We are all still a long, long way from having the first black president in American history, but a huge step was taken on Tuesday night and it was taken amidst cheering crowds, elated supporters and an engaged nation.
Sitting there on the couch, I was a bit shocked at how big a deal it was and how much it hit me.
Despite being a Clinton supporter (and a fairly ardent one at that), I was really proud of what had been accomplished by Obama, his family and his supporters.
Here is a man whose parents probably had no idea that their son would one day be standing on that stage in that situation. I doubt many black Americans of Obama’s parents’ generation thought any black man or woman would be standing there.
They hoped. I’m sure of that. But looking around America over my lifetime, I haven’t seen a lot of indicators that this kind of momentous shift was upon us.
I’ve seen violence and divided communities and institutionalized racism. I’ve seen hyped-up, fear mongering media about the violence in inner cities. I’ve seen reports of race-related beatings by everyday Americans and by men in positions of authority.
But on Tuesday, all that crap was pushed to the back corner of my mind as I listened to Obama tell me that it was “our” moment — as Americans — to be something better than we are.
No divisions, no limits.
If you were listening to that speech, he meant you when he said “our.”
That is an incredibly powerful statement in anyone’s mouth. That it came from the mouth of a man who must have felt left out of many presidents’ “our” statements over the previous decades, it is all the more remarkable.
Of course there are challenges ahead. Of course there will be failures and missteps and fallen expectations.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking and writing about those inevitable blips along the way.
But those hiccups will only occur because on Tuesday, Americans chose to set the bar higher than anyone ever has, in my lifetime anyway.
So, Mr. Obama, consider the invitation accepted.
“Our” America is going to be an exhilarating place to be.
Michael Hale is a former journalist and political hack who is pretty proud to be American today. You can read his commentaries at north60hale.blogspot.com