Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What now?

Nat-Wu here, and I thought I'd offer my thoughts on what happened last night and what's going to happen from today on. You've read enough about the facts, and there's no way I can compete with the news for coverage of people's reactions, but I'll contribute what little I have to the story. Today, a lot of people are ecstatic about Obama's victory, as well they should be. As you will read in story after story, people are calling this the culmination of Martin Luther King Jr's dream. I don't think even he could foresee a day when white and black children would play together in a US governed by a black President. Truly we are living in a special time.

That being said, I don't want to hear white conservatives going around saying, "See, we're not racists!" when the polls show that race is a major reason a lot of people didn't vote for Obama. It didn't cost him the win, however, and that's what's important.

The question now is, how do we move forward? Even if Democrats pull out the four contested senate races, it doesn't mean a new slate of progressive legislation is going to roll out and make gay marriage legal, turn America socialist or any of that nonsense. Obama is going to have to work with the Senate to get measures passed to address our immediate issues. Despite bounces in the stock market, the economy is still collapsing. Despite being in Iraq for 5 years, we've accomplished nothing except to put off the start of hostilities between sides, and after being in Afghanistan for nearly 7 years, we haven't caught Osama Bin Laden. Don't take this the wrong way, for once I'm not saying it's Bush's fault because at this point it truly doesn't matter. These are the problems Obama and his new Senate majority must solve. And it will not be easy, and some of it may not work. But we must continue the push to change America for the better.

Those of us who supported Obama and the Democrats now have a duty. We have a responsibility, both to the Democratic Party and to all the people of America, to make sure that our elected leaders walk a truer path than ever before. Our Democratic government must make an effort to divorce themselves from political backbiting to work together for the common good. My hope is that by proving that a progressive agenda does better for all Americans than a conservative one, we can win over more of the doubters. Right now we have people telling us that America is going to turn Socialist (which, if they were being rational, is ridiculous). We heard people saying that Obama was going to take all the guns away, etc, etc. Now I don't feel the need to reach out to people who insist Obama can't be President because he wasn't born in the US or that he's secretly a Muslim. If they're irrationally afraid, you can't reassure them. But if they're rationally afraid, you can. And we have to carry forward our progressive agenda while making sure they understand that we're doing this for them too. Their side says things like "America, love it or leave it!" We don't do that. I hope that my fellow progressives understand that Obama won on a message of hope and change for the better for all of us. Yes, Republicans, we will drag you into a new, more prosperous, more peaceful, and more free America even if it has to be kicking and screaming. And in a decade, I hope you learn to appreciate it.

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