Paul E. Anna: High Points | AspenTimes.com

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

You would have to be a pretty serious cynic not to have been moved by the events of Tuesday night.

Even if you didn’t vote for Barack Obama ” and remember 57 million people cast their votes for John McCain ” the emotion of the moment should have inspired optimism in all who watched. It wasn’t just the introduction of “Ladies and Gentleman, the First Family,” as the Obama family took the stage in Chicago’s Grant Park for the first time. It wasn’t the reference to the new puppy that will soon be trolling the grounds of the White House. And it wasn’t simply the image of a black man standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a white-haired Roman Catholic at center stage, about to take charge of the world’s most influential nation.

For me the inspiration came with the realization that this guy, so young, so polished, so smart, and seemingly so determined to do the right thing, had come from nowhere to circumvent the minefields of our rigorously structured political system. He was not a patrician. He did not have the name Bush or Kennedy or Gore, and his father was not some tightly connected politico. He did not come from big money made with some tech scheme or Wall Street fund.

I am tempted to say he did it the old-fashioned way, but the fact is no one has ever done it like this before. He literally came from nowhere. Well, actually he came from Hawaii, the 50th and furthest state. The most multi-cultural state. The state that is perhaps the most individual of all our states. The state that likely has the least pull of any of the 50 states in our political process.

And then there is the race thing. There was an outpouring of enthusiasm from the African-American community regarding the election of Obama. One man, age 95, who was interviewed by NPR, said, “This is the greatest day since Abraham signed the Emancipation Proclamation!” It would be hard to argue with that.

But to their everlasting credit, both Obama and McCain did not focus on race and by their actions helped further the cause of racial harmony in the future. Obama will be the first African-American president, that is a fact, but as time goes forward I predict that his race will become less and less a factor not just in how he governs but in how we, as a people, look at our president.

Things are hard. No doubt we are in a troubled time. The last eight years have put us in a difficult position. And the pressures that will be on Obama are almost inconceivable. But his election gives us a chance. This man has the potential to change things for the better and give us and the next generation the tools to build a brighter future.

Be inspired. Put away cynicism. Give him a chance.

Let this be the beginning of a new day, the beginning of the next American century.


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