The Audacity of Hope
“ Its name is public opinion. It is held in reverence. Some think it the voice of God.” Mark Twain
Public opinion becomes public decision today. As of this morning, the networks have already decided for the voters, much as those who set the line in the Texas/Texas tech game last week decided for the football fans that Texas would win. Since I called this race some weeks ago, actually months ago, I have little reason to complain. But “little reason” is not “no reason”. Millions and millions of people are watching the media coronate Obama this morning, maybe four or five read my blogs where I picked Obama to win (52% of the popular vote, 300 electoral votes).The media is taking all of the drama and fun out of this thing. I know they are excited, I’m excited. It is an election of historic proportions. As I said months ago, it goes beyond transitional into transformational, perhaps even transfigurational, if you believe some of Obama’s supporters. But let’s let the people vote first. There is plenty of time to talk about history and pat ourselves on the back for our society’s maturation.
I set out last week to write about all of the election nights I have been through. I fell short by 28 years, but it was not through lack of trying. I will get back to it someday. I look forward to tonight with the anticipation of an eight year old going to bed on Christmas Eve. Win or lose, I always feel that way about election night. Even in the grimmest of elections I could hope against hope. Before I went home in 1984, my friend Bruce Bennett called me with hopes of a “Harry Truman style upset.” Hope was dashed pretty early that night, and got dashed and dashed again through poor Mondale’s 49 state loss. But I survived, the Republic continued, and life went on in the usual way. The last part of that sentence is not so hopeful, but there it is.
Should Senator Obama win tonight, the Red Sea is not going to part, the wandering in the desert will not be over, but people will feel hope. For some it will be more hope than they have felt for many years. For a good number, more hope than they have ever felt or even thought that they would ever feel. That will be the thrill of an Obama election, not the victory of a party, but a victory of hope. For the next two years, and maybe longer, this country is going to need all of the hope it can get, from whatever source it can find it. My vote was based on the fact that I did not see McCain to be the kind of person who could convey that hope in tough times. People who own seven houses tend to see things through rose tinted glasses of champagne, in good times and in bad. I have nothing against the rich, I just don’t think that now is the time to vote for one.
In looking back over this short missive, I see that I have used the word “hope””, or it’s derivative eight times. Now nine ! That kind of repetitiveness is not very good writing, but it’s good politics, it’s good policy and, in the end will be a very good feeling, a very necessary feeling for what we face. Good luck to both candidates and more importantly, to their supporters tonight. Remember the words of Keats who reminds us that even great defeat can be glorious: “Bright is the diadem, boundless the sway, or Kingly the death which awaits us this day.”