Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What We've Done - Sherwin Hughes, Political Strategist, Milwaukee, WI

As an African American man living in the United States, it is very easy to grow increasingly cynical of a country that is often increasingly suspect of you.

This great electoral victory is not just a triumph for African American’s; it is a true national triumph in which we all shall share collectively. Is this Black history? Yes. Is this American history? Absolutely.

An Electoral College landslide and a decisive accumulation of popular votes, equate to a mandate so strong it shall re-write the pages of campaign strategy for the next 100 years.

When placed within the context of American history, this event assumes an even deeper significance. Every bead of sweat dripping from the very brows of tireless marchers for justice, every tear cried and opportunity lost as a result of De facto and De jure, every drop of blood shed during the struggle manifested itself perfectly on the evening of November 4th, 2008. A civil rights movement executed. A dream no longer deferred.

President-elect Barack Hussein Obama has ignited the American spirit in ways not seen in a generation. 21 months ago, I could not fathom that the “skinny kid with a funny name” could oust the Clintons, build a swollen grassroots organization, and turn a bitterly divided nation into a place that has reignited my pride. We can now focus on being great once again. It is for that in which I am most thankful.

Make no mistake; Senator John McCain is a good man. Senator John McCain is an American hero. As evident by his very eloquent concession, he shall continue to be a servant of this nation. I wish he, nor his republican colleagues, no ill will. However, I remain ever cautious. For the Republican Party is returning to the proverbial drawing board and will eventually reinvent and rebuild.

Politics aside, this campaign was far more. It kindled our most intrinsic values of hope, optimism.

As I celebrated with the best of them into the early morning of November 5th, I saw things that rocked my very core. Streets flooded with jubilant souls, horns honking, banners waving, and an indiscriminant expression of human love. This campaign did something to us – something absolutely divine.

Politics included, this campaign awoke the better angels of the American nature, and as a result, bent the seemingly fixed lines that characterized the political map of red and blue states.

Even though most of us, in the generation of X, have never bore witness to such a monumental testament of the American will for change, the work is not done.

It is the duty of every American, regardless of political stripe or affiliation, to make sure that President-elect Obama does not walk alone. What he needs now is far more tangible than a vote. He needs our hearts, minds, and steadfast will. I stand before you ready to submit all three—with shining pride.

A weak economy, coupled with two wars abroad and a healthcare crisis, shall take the same determination to resolve as the election took to win. Please pledge with me to commit. As we stand shoulder to shoulder under the direction of a new commander in chief who bears the burden of a nation fractured by eight years of thoughtless policy.

As cliché as these words may be, and as long as they have been a part of my oration, they have never possessed a much more poignant meaning: “God Bless America”.

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