An emailer at 2:38 a.m. EST put it this way .
And I answered, yeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooooooooooooooooo!
The election of Barack Obama is beyond… Beyond.
Try to sum up the import and you enter the nexus of intersecting visions.
You're through the looking glass, Alice.
Not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Open the pod bay door, Hal.
Scuse me while I kiss the sky.
O frabjous day, calloo, callay….
Barack Hussein Obama president.
Say you know what this means and you're a liar you betcha….
I wanted to write there's a new world coming. One in which war will not be the primary way of solving differences and in which caring for the Earth will be a revered activity, and access to healthcare will be regarded as a right and not a privilege of wealth.
I wanted to put in the context of the 60s, a time when the ecstasy of seeing the Whole Earth, and when vision quests into nature, art and more sparked Revolutions Per Minute, resulting in treaties to roll back nukes and place solar panels on the White House, open doors to Russia and China, passage of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, the first Earth Day, the breaking down of color barriers.
The spirit of such times is renewed in Obama, I wanted to write.
But Obama's impact is bigger than that and every effort to define it is absorbed in the bigness.
A woman at a party I attended, where there was dancing, and singing and grooving to the music and much other hullaballoo pent up after eight years, said, “From Lincoln to Martin Luther King to Barack Obama….”
Yes, there's a narrative. A woman of color embellished, “Even I'm old enough to remember segregation. Eating in different restaurants, going to different bathrooms.”
But a tormented youth tried pulling a buzz-kill, posing endless questions about how---from a Palestinian perspective---Obama might become just one more oppressive U.S. president.
In the wee hours a friend on the phone said, “Just look at the challenges he faces.” Oh the list is daunting and growing by the minute. More explosions in Iraq, a Mexican leader murdered just hours ago. Afghanistan a basket case, Pakistan held hostage by its own secret service. Chinese coal. Iranian nuclear ambitions. American auto companies turning to rust, to dust. The rise of right-wing populism from Alaska to the Deep South.
A voice on the radio tried defining the election in terms of dogma, quoting billionaire Jack Welch saying, “He's got to show right away that he's not in the pocket of the Left.”
Oh really? But it's bigger than that. It's worthy of Greek drama, Shakespearean tragedy, American mythology.
As the winning team took the stage, someone at the party said, “It's like a movie. Oh look at Jesse Jackson crying. Look at Oprah. Look at Joe Biden up there, after all those runs at the White House. Remember the car wreck? And look at his little frail mother. Oh my, look at Obama. Imagine losing your grandmother, the woman who raised you, on the eve of winning the presidency. Look at Michelle and those girls.” Every face on the stage represents a compelling personal story.
Even I can summon a personal narrative--about how this victory redeems my own journalistic career in a way. Only… only… this is bigger than that. And yet smaller.
Wonks are wonking and politicos are politicizing and Obama himself put this in context of political history on the front end of his gracious acceptance speech, noting how David Axelrod and others ran the best campaign in the history of the country, maybe the world. Who can argue?
Still, write the truest thing you know about this and you still fall short. A dear relation emailed, "I think Obama's the salvation of the world…"
And another: “I feel like I am back in the sixties again working on Gene McCarthy's campaign... And, for the first time since then, I am experiencing HOPE!!!!!!!!!!! Dang!”
The losers have their own narratives, thank you kindly. One in my own extended family compares Obama-worship to Hitler worship, unable to see how eight years of being force fed an America involved in war crimes, defoliation, botched rescues, mountaintop removal, bank failures, trillions in corporate welfare, assaults on eardrums of whales and dolphins, deteriorating air, ineffectual war, kidnapping, global crises, character smears, truth suppression, vote suppression, incredible debt, cultural decline, scapegoating, nuke building and worse… will make a star out of anyone who triumphantly opposes such forces in ways that elevate the debate, the nation.
Then there's the International take as recorded yesterday in the New York Times online. “It allows us all to dream a little,” said Oswaldo Calvo, 58, a Venezuelan political activist in Caracas…. Tristram Hunt, a British historian, put it so: Mr. Obama `brings the narrative that everyone wants to return to—that America is the land of extraordinary opportunity and possibility, where miracles happen."
On the other hand, I've heard Obama called a Muslim, Arab, Jew-lover, socialist, terrorist, rag-head, lapdog of corporations, and all sorts of racial epithets have been hurled his way. He's been absurdly associated with names like Charles Manson, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Satan, the anti-Christ….
Others look askance and say, “Hey, we're a little more like the Europeans now. We don't need to be starting wars and making everybody crazy.”
So true. The pictures from Chicago remind of the dawn of the New Millennium, for this is how it should've looked all along. Surely here's an opportunity to change the world, maybe even the world order, the fate of the planet.
Our first president of the millennium had the same opportunity. He too faced national and international crises, he too was relatively young and dynamic. He too held the world's good will in cupped hands. Oh how he wasted it.
Obama represents a new start, natch, but that doesn't begin to say it. Never mind. We have the rest of our lives to shine all sorts of lights on what just happened.
For now, maybe this says it best!
And may I add....