Friday, October 31, 2008

Cause for Celebration

Well, the presidential election seems to be at the stage where people are betting on the point spread rather than on who's going to be victorious. Undoubtedly, whoever becomes the next president will fall far short of his supporters' expectations, and yet be vastly better than his detractors' worst fears. (I can use the masculine possessive with reasonable confidence here.)

However, Barack Obama's election would have an automatic symbolic significance that can't be ignored. No matter how much we convince ourselves we're not voting for racial reasons, the election of the country's first African American president will be a major milestone in our history. And though this certainly would represent an enormous accomplishment by Obama, it says more about the country than it does about the candidate. (Ok, maybe it says something about George W. Bush and Sarah Palin also.)

Should this come to pass, as now appears likely, it's a great cause for celebration, regardless of your politics or ideology. We can all celebrate the fact that our country has the maturity to take a giant step closer to the dream articulated by Martin Luthor King 45 years ago:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Of course, this is certainly not the end of racism in this country or elsewhere. Obama's election would not mean the end of racism any more than Bush's presidency marked the end of discrimination against the mentally challenged. Still, it's a good time to celebrate.

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