Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama. As a conservative who has been fearful of an Obama victory for the last several months, I'm more than a little surprised at how calm I am with the dreaded result and how stress-free it is to offer genuine felicitations for the historic win.
Part of my tranquil demeanor comes because of the historic significance of the outcome. Our nation just elected an African-American as our next president of the United States. No matter party or ideology, that color-blind advancement in our electoral process has to make all of us proud.
Another reason for my serenity comes by way of my background. I grew up in abject poverty and was homeless a number of times as a child. By the time I was 17 years old, I had moved 34 times with each move coming because of a forced and often ugly eviction.
I mention that because a number of those evictions deposited me in poor, majority black neighborhoods and schools. I've talked and written about it often in the past, but I honestly look back upon those dysfunctional and traumatic years as more of a gift than a burden. I say that because as a white child, poverty and the random destination of those moves brought me face to face with an enduring truth: my young black friends were no different than me. They were just other forgotten and faceless poor children who were desperately trying to escape an existence forced upon them by the accident of birth. Color made no difference to any of us.
Because of that somewhat unique experience, for the last 20 years or so, I've been pleading with my party in print and on the air to reach out to the black and minority communities. If ever there was an unassailable wake-up call, Barack Obama just delivered it. If the G.O.P. hopes to survive, it has to go after and fight for the minority vote.
While the president-elect and others in his party may disagree with me, my young experiences also taught me there are few people more "conservative," religious, heroic, or law-abiding than a single black mother. An inspirational mindset that would not only do my party a world of good, but has always seemed to me to be a natural fit.
While it may anger some of my fellow conservatives, I want President-elect Barack Obama to succeed. More than that, for the good of our nation and for those I care about, I need him to succeed. No matter the politician or party, rhetoric is easy but results are hard and often fleeting. Rhetoric will not trump terrorism. The nation now needs him to deliver.
As one who has worked on presidential campaigns and then in the White House, I know governing is a far cry from the partisanship of a campaign. Will Mr. Obama jerk the nation to the left to appease the fringe of his party as many on my side predict? I don't think so. Everyday reality and what seems like a genuine desire to reach across the aisle, may temper any such move. And if he morphs into everything the right fears, then so what. The year 2012 will give the G.O.P. another chance to convince the nation that it is the viable alternative.
For the moment, let's all step back, take a deep breath and realize that we just elected an African-American man president of the United States. Wow. That is a testament to the greatness of our nation.
How will Trump’s administration impact you? Learn more