By Lee Douglas
Lee Douglas is a retired U.S. Navy disabled veteran. Her “Beyond Black and White” column appears regularly in Kitsap Sun newspaper in Bremerton.
Tuesday night’s election results marked a change in our nations’ perceptions of what makes a leader. What made the difference? A sense of hope-no matter what the challenges America is facing, that was the main emphasis to Obama’s campaign. His positive message was the answer the voters have been waiting for. Hope is such powerful message along life’s journey, by a strong desire for change to come with the belief that someday it will happen. That “someday” is now here!
On November 1, 1960 I was six years old listening to President John F. Kennedy give his victory speech on the old black and white TV in my parents’ living room. Those same feelings of inspiration, relief, and a hope for the future came flooding back almost 50 years later on this election night, that in America all things are possible. Change in the 1960 election was the first Irish-Catholic President and the youngest President to be elected to the highest office of our nation. From being that little girl just barely understanding the ongoing racial upheavals and achievements then, and now as an adult to bear witness to the first President elect of African-American descent, yes, 2008’s election night was overwhelming!
Our nation needs this spark of hope and unity to replace the discouragement and apathy of voters rampant during the last eight years. The election night showed that change was coming. Voter turnout made new records. Parents took their children to see them cast their vote, and the constitutional right to vote became a “family affair”. The night generated an atmosphere of anticipation that something earth-shattering or acutely disappointing could occur from the election results. The desire of being a part of history--no matter what—took center stage.History is a moment in time where historians, biographers and writers interpret the impact of change. I would like to change that definition to the impact of hope. President Kennedy’s election came during the time of the cold war (the rise of communism), nuclear power weapons, civil rights struggle, and the space race. President-elect Obama faces a time of crisis with the housing market scandals, stock market decline, devaluation of retirement portfolios, environmental cleanup, developing new energy resources, reduction of jobs and businesses due to outsourcing to other countries, and terrorism threats (home grown and foreign) to world peace. And still, Obama pursued the highest office of a nation still angry from the betrayal and greed of the current administration. Faced with these overwhelming issues, would you want this job!?!
Election night starts the American people on the road to unity, cooperation, communication and most important, hope! Hope says “Yes, We Can!” which was the campaign slogan for Obama and that our country needs to believe in. Hope channels the vast knowledge, skills, and experience that will be needed for our nation to overcome the hardships facing us now.
I regret that I must address the last aspect of this election: race. Race did play a part, however, not like the “business-as-usual” way. Qualifications and experience was examined repeatedly for both candidates. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr stated in his “I have a Dream” speech that he looked forward to the day “when his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” The election of Obama finally says that America has finally matured to a nation of true equal opportunity for all.