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

Pray for America on Tuesday: A Picture Worth 158 years


The picture above is from today's Obama rally in St. Louis. The eye is first drawn to the sheer number of people. Impressive. But that's not the greatest point to grasp.

If you look in the distance, you can clearly see a building with a greenish-copper dome. That's the Old St. Louis Courthouse. For years and years, slaves were auctioned on its steps.

The Old Courthouse used to be called the St. Louis State and Federal Courthouse. Back in 1850, two escaped slaves named Dred and Harriett Scott had their petition for freedom overturned in a case there. Montgomery Blair took the case to the US Supreme Court on Scott's behalf and had Chief Justice Roger Taney throw it out because, as he wrote, the Scotts were "beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

It is distinctly humbling and uplifting that, 158 years later, the man we are trying to elect the first black US President was able to stand outside this very same courthouse and gather that huge crowd. Today at least, in St. Louis, America looked back on one of the darkest moments in its history, and resoundingly told Judge Taney to go to hell.

Pray that enough of us press the right button on Tuesday, not for the past but through remembering it for a better future. Santayana said, "Those who forget the errors of history are doomed to repeat them." Pray for rational decisions, study, intellect, discussion, consensus, 'highest and best' excellence, the highest of standards and truth... beyond lies, politics as usual, 'spin' and inept boorishness of every kind. And beyond praying, act: if you can think of a single soul in a swing state who might vote the wrong way, phone them now, and phone them again on Tuesday morning. The 2000 election was lost by 500 votes. These eight years of Neanderthal, regressive government have prized instinct over intelligence, knee-jerk over thoughtful, elitism over our children's futures and greed over common sense. Enough is enough. Pass it on.