Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Disappointed ...

In a way, I understand.

See, 1,462 days ago – four years and two days – I felt much the same way as you're feeling right now. The difference was, as me and half the country sat stunned, most of the rest of the world sat stunned along with us. Newspapers across the globe published headlines of disbelief. Web sites appeared expressing our apologies to the planet.

But Tuesday night, in Chicago and Atlanta and Washington D.C., in living rooms and bar rooms, in churches and mosques, a little better than half of us rejoiced. And this time, the planet joined us.

Tuesday night, after I watched Obama speak, I said, out loud to my empty den but within earshot of the universe, "We have our country back."

The country of the past 8 years has been an aberration. I'm sorry, but Bush was not a good president. He was a bad president. He was, quite possibly, the worst president.

There was a time when I could have been convinced of a McCain candidacy. I wouldn't have voted for him, but I would have understood those who did. Then he chose Sarah Palin and all bets were off. And it got so, so ugly as they got more and more mired in the mud they were so frantically slinging. It made me angry, but most of all, it made me sad.

So here we are, two days hence. The confetti has settled. The front pages have been printed. And many of you are stewing. You're disgusted. You're pissed.

And now you know how half of the country felt four years ago when Kerry lost. (Please note that I didn't say "... when Bush won.") The world sat in stunned silence that night as the returns trickled in. I remember. I was awake into the wee hours, refusing to believe what I was seeing, sure that if I simply stayed up late enough, Peter Jennings would tell me, "We made a mistake. John Kerry is the next president of the United States."

I was on the phone with a friend that night. We were both crying.

The pain of Bush's first term was real, and that night, the pain was extended for four more years.

It had to end. Two wars, economic turmoil, the erosion of civil liberties, shall I go on?

Contrary to your belief, I'm not here to gloat. Unfortunately, the chasm in this country is now so gaping that we seem to think the only way for us to hear each other is to yell when what we need to do is talk to each other in calm, measured voices, to help each other to understand our respective thoughts.

So allow me to share my view of John McCain from the Obama side of this schism:

In John McCain, I saw a disingenuous man. Every time he referred to the country as "my friends," I cringed.

In John McCain, I saw a reckless man. No one will ever convince me that Sarah Palin was qualified. McCain, unable to choose from among his top choices, opted for shock and awe in a skirt. But she was quickly stripped of her style and had no substance to reveal.

In John McCain, I saw an angry man. It pains me, deeply, that so much of all politics is about tearing down, not building up. But McCain's campaign descended into nearly unfathomable darkness, from the constant barrage of negative ads on radio and TV to the angry mobs at rallies. Thankfully, the angry mobs eventually dwindled. Because people stopped coming to his events. In the last few days of the campaign, Obama drew 80,000 to a rally, and the next day, only 1,000 showed up for McCain. Those numbers further illustrate my point: People responded to Obama's message of hope and change. People tired of McCain's relentless attacks.

Tuesday night, as I watched McCain concede, I wondered, "Where was that man during this campaign?" I believe he would have had a real chance.

But instead, the man who ran made a Faustian deal. He sold his soul. And then he lost. Because you can dance with the devil but he'll always break your heart. To believe otherwise is simply naive. Bush may have finagled his way into four more years, but he didn't win. Because four years later, in a stunning repudiation, the country said "no" to divisiveness in a big way. State after state after state voted for change. Look at this map (source: New York Times) that compares how counties voted in this election versus 2004. Note the vast profusion of blue. Voters rejected the Republican agenda from coast to coast.



So many of our hearts have been broken for these past eight years. So we know how you feel. But trust us, this time, it's completely different. It may not feel that way to you. But did you see what happened Tuesday night? As we cheered, the world cheered with us. Hope prevailed. Change is at hand.

For all of us. As Obama said in his speech, "I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices."

We all hear your voices. I know cynics remain. But don't let your anger blind you. Cast your skeptic eyes toward the future. This is our country. It belongs to us all. Eight years of anger and shouting brought us to the brink. It's time to step back, to turn around to face the land we all love, and return this country to its promise, its potential.

Obama won because he appealed to the belief that we are more alike than we are different, that at our cores, we all thirst for the same basic truths. We may not always agree on the best way to get there, but as long as each path points toward the future, we'll arrive. Together.

The journey begins in earnest January 20, 2009.

On our marks. Get set. Grow.

5 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

Well said, Beth. And good for you as well for stressing the situation with John McCain. It pained me to see a man whom I respected degenerate into something unrecognizable, using a strategy that was not only untrue to him, but also was failing miserably in the eyes of the American people. Too many times I've seen otherwise capable people - Bob Dole, John McCain, even Hillary Clinton and, to some extent, John Kerry - sabotage themselves by heading deeply flawed campaigns, and by the time they seem to realize they're on a bridge to nowhere, it's too late. Lewis Black said it perfectly a few months ago when he said that he preferred McCain in 2000, when he was "sane". The speech the senator gave on Tuesday gave me some hope that the McCain of 2000 can find his way back, and can indeed be helpful in the future - maybe in the Senate, maybe elsewhere. In the meantime, whether you voted for Obama or not, the time has come to put the past behind us and get to work.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Martwork said...

Perfectly put. Well done.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Beth, as always well said!

11:52 AM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Very nicely said, Beth.

Toward the end of the campaign I saw McCain as a man who viewed being president as the culmination of his personal career path. In Obama, I saw a man who viewed being president as a way to change the country for the better.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

I have to agree with you, Beth. It seems to me as if this election brought out the worst in McCain. I once respected him. But then he just seem to go awry, especially after his choice of Palin. It was very sad to see. A year go if someone asked me if I would have been comfortable with McCain as president, then I would have said, "Yes." Now I would say, "No."

8:48 PM  

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