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Do I Inhale or Exhale?

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This morning when PunditGirl woke up, her eyes half open and still sleepy, snuggled under the covers, she quietly asked in her groggy morning voice, "Did Obama win?"

When I told her the outcome, she sat up, made a fist and said, as if it was her own triumph, "YES!"

That's the tone I want to be able to savor as we move forward from the eight years of disappointment and worry this country has been through, eight years of deception and greed, eight years of losing ourselves.

We've survived one of the longest and most emotionally taxing elections in memory. And I want to feel that elation that PunditGirl showed this morning, but I'm still hesitant. Not because I have any more reservations about Barack Obama, but because I have reservations about us as a country.

We did something truly amazing last night -- something I never thought I would see in my lifetime, and I don't just mean the election of the first African-American President.

I didn't think, given the state of divisive politics, personal attacks and gamesmanship that had become the status quo of our political world, that I would ever see red and blue truly become purple.

But last night, as the states were being turned colors on the news networks maps, the red and the blue did begin to blend together. And I started to weep.

I feared for my eight year-old growing up in a country where it had become accepted practice to attack politicians' families, to mock people's education and intellect, and to believe it was alright to say and do whatever it took to win a vote, regardless of the consequences, be they tangible or moral.

This morning, for the first time in many years, I have hope that our nation is on the road to recovering its political soul.

I'm not letting Barack Obama off the hook. I will be there making sure that our new administration takes seriously the issues of equal pay for equal work, that it gives back our right to reproductive choice, that it makes sure that our sons and daughters have quality day care and health care and that, one some level, we acknowledge that we are our brothers' keepers.

If we have learned nothing else from the last eight years, it should be this -- if we continue to allow our government to throw its hands up and say "It's not our responsibility," we are doomed.

Thank goodness doom is not the feeling I have this morning, just joy tinged with a little pragmatism. Because the words and the spirit of being one country again are wonderful, but the work that needs to start today to keep that going will be hard and frustrating at times.

This morning, I can exhale because voters stood up to the politics of deception and division and sent a clear message -- we are done with that.

I can inhale, because there fresh political air blowing today. And its breeze feels wonderful.

Joanne Bamberger is a political commentator and writer who blogs about the intersection of politics and motherhood (and more!), at her place, PunditMom. She is also a Contributing Editor of News & Politics at BlogHer and a proud MOMocrat.

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