Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Not Yes We Can, But Yes We Did!

It has only been an hour or so since Fox News called the game. I figured if Fox News conceded, then it was definitely over. Barack Obama, the first black to be nominated for President, has won the Presidential election.

A few minutes ago I watched as John McCain manned up and got his concession speech out of the way quickly. In my opinion a very good speech. I would say the best one I heard from him this whole campaign. Gone were the idiotic talking points, accusations, and denigrating commentary. It was a classy speech and John made me feel he meant every word. John almost looked relieved as he spoke. I honestly do not think he ran the campaign he wanted to, but was part of one he never felt at home in.

I am in wonder now. I am more than a little befuddled. Just about the time I am sure this country has really gone off the deep end, we pull a stunt like this election. I was sure we would elect a woman as President long before we elected a Black. I was sure we would probably vote in a Latino before a Black also. As it turns out I had a more negative view of White America than Barack did. He has proven to be a better man than I this day. He refused to buy into the race card when many if not most of us, white and black, had resigned ourselves to tolerance without inclusion. Obama would have none of it.

By not buying, using, or pandering to the Race Card, Barack Obama figured out how to make many of us forget his color and listen to what he was saying. He didn't care that he was Black. He expected us to not care either. And somehow he pulled it off. He convinced enough of us that his vision could be our vision. I sit here convinced that this truly Historic event is but a beginning. And even though I am not all that comfortable with one party in control of the whole ship so to speak, maybe it is time for us to throw our support behind just one for awhile. If they are smart and lucky, America may be in for good times once again.

When I was in sixth grade living in Tallahassee, Florida in the early 1960s, everything was segregated. I went to an all white public school, all fancy and new. Yet I lived just on the right side of the tracks so to speak and not far from me was the black school that taught the blacks in my area. Run down wooden building with dirt dooryard and broken playground equipment.

The Blacks had their own movie theater. I discovered this the hard way. The theater was just up the street and shortly after we moved there I went to the movies. I went in and sat down. Just about the time I noticed there seemed to be no other white folks there but me, a deep black voice behind me said, "Boy, you might want to leave this theater. I wouldn't want you to get hurt." I turned and every black face in the row was looking at me hard. They were not friendly faces. I left quickly. My racial education was just beginning.

I was ostracized at school for several reasons. One was I was the new kid. That one I could handle. I grew up always being the new kid. But the one that really got me was I had been caught hanging out with a black kid on the FSU campus by one of my classmates. The black kid was the son of one of the maids who worked at the motel my dad managed. I had to dot a couple of eyes before they let me alone over that one.

Since I lived outside the school district lines and theoretically in the black distric, I had to take public buses to school. It meant a 45 minute plus ride to and from school every day. The back of the bus was where I wanted to ride but couldn't. It was explained to me by the bus driver (a black) that white folk sat up front. "Why?" I asked him. He shrugged and mumbled something about it being the way it was. Needless to say, when I left Tallahassee I never looked back. Bigotry had been forced down my throat and I did not like it.

I discovered that every facet of life in Tallahassee was broken down into two cultures. The two cultures did not interact with each other except in the work place and very few public buildings. The Library had white fountains and black fountains. White bathrooms and black bathrooms. Even the State Capitol building was segregated. For a white boy raised in the integrated military, my year plus in Tallahassee was an eye opener.

I lived with the shame of segregation. I felt the hate of both races as I tried to understand in my 12 year old mind just what the Hell was the problem. I did not understand it then and I still don't. To me, the worst indicator of a man's character is the color of his skin. And finally a man has shown up and rammed this point home throughout all of America. Finally a man has emerged who has taken our stupid stratified society and shaken it to it's core.

So this election has special meaning to me. I never thought I would see this day in my lifetime. No matter what side of the aisle you sit on, be proud of what America did this day. That's it. Just be proud America.


Demeur said...

I recall a similar situation at the same age. Seeing a whites only sign while on vacation in the deep south. I look with puzzlement at the sign and asked my parents what it ment. It didn't make sense to a twelve year old mind.
Some years later while I was in college I went to a dance. This was also in the south. In the gym they had chairs at the sides. There was another group of chairs seperate from the rest. You guessed it, my date and I walked over and sat down in the seperate section with the glares of the faculty. We were both from the north and didn't care about their standards or ideas. And the black students came and satdown with us much to the dismay of the faculty.
But I think the choice of Obama was not about race or gender but about picking the best person to lead this country out of our current problems.

PresterJohn said...

Nice personal post, Crummy.

I've really never understood bigotry .... the root of why some hate others based on race, religion, ethnicity. From whence does that demon spring. Just don't get it.

MRMacrum said...

Demeur - No, it was not about race. That was my point I guess. Obama would not let it be about race. I would lying though if I did not say it was to some degree about race for me. You cannot know how much I have hoped for this day. Every day of his presidency, there will be an in our face reminder that race really does not matter.

Al Sharpton, a guy I have learned to tune out most days, said something before Obama was elected that kind of stuck with me. He was not all full of race baiting crap for a change. He aimed his rancor at his own race and said an Obama administration would put pressure on Blacks to step up and live up to new expectations. Something to the effect that if so many whites could bury their racist tendencies, blacks had better start recognizing this and bury theirs. When I hear words like this come out of the mouth of AL Sharpton, I know we have turned a very big corner.

presterjohn - I get the impression from Obama he does not get it either. It's time for those of us who don't get it on both sides to stand up say to our respective races, "Enough already, you people are being dumasses".

Randal Graves said...

And don't worry, there will be plenty of work. There are quite a lot of dumbasses.

I wonder if the dude with the "No Socialists" sign on my street took it down yet.

A Midnight Rider said...

It is obvious to even the most casual observer, that this election was a smashing repudiation of the hideous right-wing faction that has wreaked so much damage on the country

I became a fan of Sharpton when he was on Fox with Hannity. Hannity asked him, and I'm paraphrasing, "if that is so, why don't I feel that way?". Sharpton answered, "because your an idiot".

I can't predict where things will end up in America, but I can say with all sincerity that things will be better.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

The election was never about race---it was about which road to follow to best serve the country. As we all now know the result, the choice was to give the left a shot at it. The pop theme was Obama for change----we now have obama, and we are waiting to see the change----We can't blame Bush any more---its a left controlled Senate, and a left controlled House of Representatives for the last two years, and now the left controls the presidency as well---its their game----time will tell. I personally feel that many people will grow to be dissappointed.

BBC said...

I didn't watch, to me it was a given. Not going to be easy to fix this country.

We got sick and tired of the Republicans, and in four or eight years we will be sick and tired of the Democrats. Maybe then we can get an Independent of some sort in to give it a shot.

I wasn't raised to not like people of other shades, unusual considering where I was raised.

Spent two years in Florida in the early 60's and thought that a lot of what I saw was just plain stupid.

That was my first real experience with them as there were none where I was raised. The ones I worked with in the Navy were good folks.

Blah, blah, blah....

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

Barack Obama's politics are not my cup of tea, as you probably know, but I do realize that you are absolutely right about what a monumental event this is. Sincere congratulations to Barack Obama on his victory, and to the United States for making some overdue history.

Robert F. Kennedy, during his time as Attorney General, was wont to reassure black civil rights leaders that the reforms of the early 60s would be the first step, and that the country would follow. He believed America would move past its racial problems, and he was fond of predicting that "in 40 years, we'll have a black President."

He wasn't too far off the mark. More has to happen to make the USA a post-racial nation, but I hope Obama's election to the presidency can lead the way.

And congratulations to you, Crummy, and your many commenters here, on getting your guy elected. It's a great feeling when your guy wins, and the bums in office get thrown out.

Dawn on MDI said...

it still feels surreal. Like in 04 when the sox won. I am afraid I'll wake up and it will all have been a dream

1138 said...

not left controlled gary,
not like the filibusterer proof super majority the right had for a time there

Snave said...

Great post, Mac.

When I was in grade school, MLK was a hero of mine. In the area where I live, that wasn't a very cool thing at the time. Our town has never had more than a handful of blacks living in it any given time. I was in tears about it a couple of times, when adults said things about King that I thought were mean. I shouted at one adult who after King's assassination said it was a good thing. To me, seeing Obama's election represents a vindication of all the hard work and hope of millions of people over many decades. Still living in the same town as when I was ten years old, I feel a bit of personal vindication in knowing that some of the basic principles I have adhered to since childhood are coming to be realized on such a magnificent scale.

You are right, it wasn't really about race after all. I think Obama himself saw to that. His vision and leadership has so far transcended any of the base stereotypes and racism which has blighted our country. It was a campaign about ideas, and as much as the GOP tried to make it a camapaign about image, they were not able to succeed. This is a testament to Obama's campaign, which must certainly be one of the best-run in our history.

Gary, we do still have Bush for a couple more months, and I think that with all he is leaving behind, we may be cursing him for the next decade or three. But yes, the people have decided to give the Dems a turn. During the next four to eight years, I can see how the GOP will probably be able to reshape itself and become competitive again. They may need to move a bit toward the center, though.

For now, I'll wallow around in the Democratic victories, but that won't be for long. Bush and Cheney are still in office for 75 more days. I'll breathe much easier after Obama is inaugurated. And I'm pretty sure that on the morning of January 21, people will not wake up to find all their guns confiscated, Christianity outlawed, taxes raised 10% on everyone, people marrying goats, etc. It won't be that way at all, although to listen to people around here where I live, you'd think that is what's coming.

I think what's coming is a beginning. I am anxious to see where it leads America.

BBC said...

Just how much power do you people think a president has? Not that damn much.

I don't expect things to change much for the next year, other than to maybe get worse.

This country is full of people that think they are special and should be spoiled, yeah, lets how it is in a year.

I like the man but I'm not blowing soap bubbles yet.

Middle Ditch said...

It's such a good thing that such horrible segregation is now a distant memory.

I don't think it matters what colour skin Obama has. The country voted for the best contender. And that was he and he won. Well done America.