Hope Conquers Fear
Ever since the polls closed last night, I’ve been trying to put into words what Obama’s victory means, for me, for the country, for the world. Well, Sarah Van Gelder, editor of YES! Magazine, seems to have read my mind. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
President-elect Barack Obama was right when he said in his election night speech that the victory was not all about him, but his leadership was extraordinary. He ran a campaign of high integrity, focusing on issues that really mattered, showing he could lead the whole country forward–not pandering, but speaking to our higher selves. He brought authenticity, telling his own story and sharing his own hardships and hopes. And he showed wisdom, maturity, compassion, and humanity, assuring voters that he would work for us all.
But this was also a victory for the kind of citizen involvement that makes democracy a living reality.
It was a victory for the movement that has been battling across the country to keep elections fair and prevent the suppression of votes.
It was a victory for the internet, which allowed ordinary people, rather than just the wealthy, to fund and participate fully in a candidacy.
It was a victory for young people, who poured their love into this campaign and inspired so many others.
It was, as Rep. John Lewis said on election night, the triumph of a nonviolent revolution, launched by the Freedom Riders, the marchers in Selma, by Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and so many others.
It was a victory for a new progressive majority made up of people of color, youth, women, well-educated people, working-class people, and the poor, but inviting all to join in.
It was a victory of hope—the centerpiece of the Obama campaign—over fear.
These are extraordinarily challenging times, with climate change passing various tipping points, wars in the Middle East, and an economic meltdown, just to name a few of the crises facing President-Elect Obama and all of us. It will take a combination of leadership from the Obama administration and leadership from all the rest of us if we are to rise to these daunting challenges.
But now we know: Yes, we can.