The Arc of History: The Making of the President 2008
“How long ? not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Martin Luther King, Montgomery , Alabama, March 25, 1965
“ It is the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long and by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve, to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.” Barrack Obama, Chicago, Illinois, November 4, 2008
The arc of morality, invoked by King after the crossing of the Selma bridge 43 years ago, became, at last, the arc of history last night as Americans crossed the last bridge together and elected Barrack Obama President of the United States. Five years after Barrack Obama was born, it was still illegal for his mother and father to live together as man and wife in the state of Virginia. Last night that state helped make the son of that union our President.
The sound you heard last night was an end to the 1960s, an end to the bitterness and rancor that has gone on between the baby boomers for these last 40 years. It is not the end of partisanship, but it is perhaps the end of the my generations internal wars, or at least to their relevance. I supported Obama just for that reason. I thought that another Clinton in the White House would be the same as painting a bulls eye on it. As I have said before, my generation blew it. We elected two Presidents, one was one of the five worst Presidents in the history of our Republic, leading our country close to moral bankruptcy with regard to its conduct of foreign affairs, and literal bankruptcy with regard to its stewardship of the economy., The other guy got impeached for lying under oath to a Federal Grand Jury after conducting an illicit Oval office affair with a young intern. I guess we were right all of those years ago, don’t trust anyone over thirty.
But today is not the day to look back in anger. Today is the day to look ahead. It is true that there are immense problems (or as the politicians say “challenges”) facing us. But I think that the choice made last night, of optimism for the future, will help us face down the problems that we must admit, we, ourselves, have created. I have nothing against John McCain, but it would not have helped the tenor of discussion to have our next President elected on a campaign of name calling, mudslinging and cynical manipulation of the party base through the choice of an unqualified person as his running mate. O.K., maybe I do have something against John McCain, but I’m going to get over it. Fast.
The sheer size of the baby boom generation means that we will never be irrelevant. As the great Gary Marfin once said, “We may not always run the country, but radio stations will still have to play Percy Sledge singing “When a Man Loves a Woman” for as long as we are breathing.” We had our moment in the sun, it was not a good moment, but there are no do overs, in politics or in life. I am hopeful (that word again) that the next generation can, in the words of Twain “Dream other dreams, and better.” God Bless the United States of America.