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Victory and Civil Justice - A Recovering Physicist's Apology

About Victory and Civil Justice

Previous Entry Victory and Civil Justice Nov. 5th, 2008 @ 11:33 am Next Entry
My friend Rhea made some interesting comments about Obama in my last post. She made the case that Obama will be affective because of what he symbolizes. That really hit me last night and today. America has changed, in a way that is encouraging. What is so often forgotten in American history is just how stunted that history truly is. Lincoln and Twain were contemporaries, Jefferson died a mere 40 years before the Civil War, we tend to view our history like we do those of other nations -- in long broad strokes with great gulfs of time between our leaders, our thinkers, and our "eras". And yet that simply is not the case. We have a stunted nationhood separated not by centuries, but by decades.

It is in that vein that I viewed Obama's victory last night. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed a mere 44 years ago. That puts its passage within many of our parents' lifetimes and certainly those of our grandparents. I have heard many people saying race is not an issue and not understanding why "some people" will not just let it go. This is why: their grandparents could not sit in the same cab as a member of another race. This is not an abstraction: a long reach to some distant relative whose never been met, never been seen, never been known. "Some people" need only ask a grandparent to hear the horrors of racism and segregation. It is still very much in the collective consciousness of America.

We have come a long way on the road to equality. People far better, far braver, and far more human than I, have walked the road. But we must also remember that the path is not yet at its end. As much as Obama's victory helps to validate the struggle of those that came before, the Republican campaign revealed hidden and deep racism and intolerance that still lurks in certain segments of the US population. It has shown that we have come a very long way, but have not reached the final destination. Indeed Obama's own policies on the rights of homosexuals show that we have a long way yet to go.

Obama's victory is not the end of bigotry. It is the affirmation that we are on the right path, and it must also remind us that the path stretches farther still. I only hope that we will continue to walk it, carrying others if necessary, but always, always, together and forever onward.

Congratulations to Barrack Obama, despite my reservations about his ability to lead compared to my candidate of choice Ralph Nader, Obama's victory is symbolic. I do not mean that in a dismissive or flippant way, I mean that honestly and reverently -- in the same way that man walking on the moon was symbolic, the same way the Berlin Wall coming down was symbolic, our Declaration of Independence and subsequent Constitution were symbolic -- Obama being elected to the office of the presidency was symbolic. And like all great portents of change and symbolism of affirmation, it makes me proud of my state and my country.
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From:superpastelgirl
Date:November 6th, 2008 12:29 am (UTC)

props to Andrew

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Thanks for the shout-out:) I am also extremely proud of my state and country right now. We have done something which, 44 years ago when our president-elect was the 3-year-old child of a mixed-race couple living in Hawaii, no one would have thought possible. Even as recently as senior year at Oberlin, when we were watching 24 in Dave's dorm, I remember distinctly thinking "a black president is still a long way away." But he was only two elections away. How awesome.
But the road ahead is long and full of giant hurdles, and hopefully we can make it over them.
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From:stovelkor
Date:November 6th, 2008 12:58 pm (UTC)
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that's what I've been trying to say all along!! the guy inspires people in a way that makes him an effective (not affective ;) leader, something which in all honesty Nader has never done (that's not a dig at him, but very few people have ever had that special ability to stir the masses the way Obama has.) it's apparent not just in large rallies, but also in the people that are truly serious and motivated to get involved in their country again. i'm a proud american again not just because of the wonderful symbolic victory here, but because for the first time since I can remember the the more civil, high-road approach to campaigning beat out the low-road smear-tactic approach. my faith in politics has been restored a great deal. obama's already changed things in that regard and given me hope that further change for the better is still possible.
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From:whoishe
Date:November 7th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
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The precinct in which I canvassed Tuesday had 82% voter turnout. Unbelievable.

The US went from Jim Crow to a black president within the lifespan of a single generation. Absolutely amazing. I am not generally an American exceptionalist, but would such a story be possible anywhere else in the world?
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From:biggrumpy
Date:November 7th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC)
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I think you greatly underestimate Nader during the pre-Reagan years. He got more mail than the Beatles. You don't build up the legislative portfolio that Nader has by NOT inspiring people. As we have talked about in the past, Citizen Nader's legislative record makes President Elect Obama's look comical by comparison. That doesn't happen without massive support. Nader may be the Democrats favorite whipping boy these days, but at one time Nader was the pre-Reagan Obama. Everyone thought he was the future, I still do. But the nation changed and Nader did not. Give the Democrats some time though, they have a tendency to eat their own. (Clinton went from the Best.Democrat.Ever. to schmuck in like 2 weeks).

I hope that the changes you mentioned in your post will stick and is not a property of Obama himself rather than the actual rules of the game being changed.

Edited at 2008-11-07 08:15 pm (UTC)
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From:stovelkor
Date:November 8th, 2008 01:26 am (UTC)
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exactly, "during the pre-Reagan years." That was before you or I were born, my friend. If Nader couldn't capitalize on Beatles level "celebrity" to catapult him to high office, what makes you think it could happen now? I'm not trying to dis him or anything. I have great respect for the man's accomplishments and I agree with virtually everything he says. But you gotta face it, his time to have any real impact has long since passed.
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From:biggrumpy
Date:November 8th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
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Nader never ran for office pre-Reagan because he felt like he was forwarding the ideal model of government: strong civilian groups watching the government, which in turn watched over corporations. Then along came Reagan more or less unifying the the two with the Dems high-fiving each other about it and the rest is history.

Keep in mind that had the same rules that consistently keep third-party "long shot" candidates out of the national debates been applied to the pre-Iowa Democratic debates, Obama would not have been in a single debate (and under the rules could have been excluded from a few post-Iowa debates to boot)! Without a platform to get out his message of hope, do you honestly believe he would ever have become a viable candidate? Of course not.

Obama is not just emblematic of the shifting tides of race relations in our country, but also proof positive that if you give the long shot candidate a chance to debate they can actually win. And that scares the hell out of Republicrats.

Edited at 2008-11-08 04:50 pm (UTC)
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