12/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Barack Obama and the World's Highest Hopes

Wow. How good did voting feel this year? Its always been a thrill, but never so much as this. When I submitted my ballot a chill went up my spine and joy filled my heart. I felt real. I felt in the world. I respected my country and my fellow citizens. We had a Presidential candidate in Obama, who represented a majority of the nation's hopes and dreams, and my countrymen did not turn away from him because of his race. November 4th was one of the happiest days of my life and one of the greatest days in our nation's history.

I don't feel people voted for him because he is black. Blacks voted for Obama in record numbers because Obama said what they wanted to hear. There are many black politicians who don't draw black voters at all. I don't feel people voted for McCain because he is not black or because he's white. If Obama had lost I don't think it would have been because he is black. There will always be some who care more about race than their country, but on the whole I feel Americans looked at who would best help move us forward. That's how it should be, and that's how it was. I feel as if America just took a shower. This country has never felt so clean and fresh and reinvigorated. We still need another good scrubbing or two but for the first time I believe we'll clean up our act.

I've been alive fourty-four years, and I've studied as much history as I can, certainly not as much as professional historians, but I have never felt any leader has been a world leader. Many have claimed dominion over the world, but now billions of people all over the world are claiming ownership of Obama. He is the first international President. He is the first World President. He is the first true world leader.

Obama mirrors the world's best and brightest hopes. He does not embody all our best qualities -- no one does. But it is enough that he can tell a good idea from a bad one. It's enough that he can see a problem and not make it worse. That is quality enough for a leader of humankind. And for that strength, which is not uncommon or superhuman, and precisely because it is not uncommon, and because he will be President, he is a focal point -- one of many -- for everything we hope for.

He can't fail because no one is asking him to be extraordinary. Expectations are not too high for this man. I strongly disagree that Obama carries an enormous burden as President elect during these troubled times. We ask only that he deal with reality, and that is what Obama does best, which was strongly reflected in his humble, sober address to a Grant Park crowd willing to be whipped into a frenzy. He did not rouse the crowd he settled the crowd.

People around the world do not project "Saint" onto Obama, or "Savior" or any other pie-in-the-sky childish fantasy. People see only a man who understands what needs to be done. We obviously need to take aggressive steps toward new energy development. Obviously Wall Street cannot be trusted to police itself. Obviously something has to be done about health care. Obviously we can't kick out thirteen million illegal immigrants even if it was the right thing to do on paper. Obama does not hold common sense hostage to insecurity or ideology. That is reason to celebrate and be happy and feel like we live in a different, better world than the world that existed on November 3rd.

I have no fear Obama will fail. He's not about a particular policy, he's about a spirit of dignity, and not just for Democrats. He wants Republicans to feel safe and honored and heard and respected, and he wants them to feel the world has room for them as well, despite the fact that so many Republicans don't want to make room for others. That is a leader. There's no way he'll get us into a stupid war. There's no way he'll allow Iraq to fall apart. There's no way he'll appoint unqualified judges and politicize the Justice Department. There's no way we'll suffer through another Katrina. There's no way he'll gut the environment. There's no way he'll let Halliburton dictate this country's energy and foreign policy. It's amazing how far basic competence and common sense will take a President and a nation and the world. If Obama simply shows up for work everyday we'll be better off than we are now -- we won't have W butchering every good thing about this country.

All Obama has to do is attempt to rebuild what W destroyed and he will be re-elected in a landslide. Unfortunately it will take him one full term to stop the ongoing damage Bush will do from beyond the grave and begin to turn things around. Most of his agenda will have to wait until 2012, sadly. The most important thing he can do in his first term he has already done. He has stopped the backsliding.

One good thing Bush did, and he did unwittingly, is expose the hidden dark forces in this country and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt they are useless. Armed with that clarity, America has learned reality does not bend to ideology and is ready to support common sense once again. Will fixing the world be like falling out of bed? Pretty much. Yeah. We were doing fine before W and we'll be back on our feet soon enough. I mean, how many billions of people around the world knew invading Iraq was a horrible idea? How many billions knew deregulating Wall Street was financial suicide? The world has all the answers. Now we have a leader who knows what the people know. And that's why he's the first world leader in history.