Thoughts on the election of Barack Obama

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since the election, and I’m not sure there’s much I could add to what has been said about it already. So, just a few thoughts.

This is the first presidential election in which I felt that my guy won. Obviously Barack Obama is an impressive speaker, but I’ve never been particularly interested in political speech itself. But as the campaign went on, I found myself actually wanting to hear what he had to say. What he said – and how he said it – synced up with my views most of the time. I’ve never had that before.

Obviously, it was an historic election. It makes me proud of my country in many ways. I think it puts us on a path to bringing our behavior back in line with our greatest American ideals, renewing our faith in ourselves and rejecting fear, and restoring our reputation.

With all of that said, though, I think we also need to – as liberals – remain vigilant. We the People can’t let up now. Barack Obama and his allies in Congress will need our support and our honest evaluations of how they’re doing.

Also, I tend to agree with some of what’s been said and written already that liberals must be careful not to read too much into this election. This election was still very much about rejecting the Republicans. I think it was even less about rejecting conservatism. The Republicans proved themselves to be cynical, corrupt, and incompetent during their time in power. Conservatism ran out of ideas to help the nation at this particular moment.

But none of that means that liberalism has triumphed. I believe we’re at a strange moment when the conventional wisdom – the common sense – remains as the conservative movement has defined it for the past thirty years. But that very common sense broke down when it came to facing problems in the real world, and many so-called conservatives themselves abandoned that common sense when things got bad. What stepped in to the breach? Liberalism, of course. But I don’t believe the American public understands it that way. That work – of defining, articulating, and defending liberalism – of explaining its value – remains to be done.

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