And in the end it seemed almost easy.
The obstacles fell away like scales from our eyes and the truth in all its complexity was laid bare. We still saw the chasm between the ideologies, the stark difference in personality and temperament; we heard boos in Arizona and cheers in Chicago; Fox News glum and shaken, MSNBC ebullient and giddy. We saw throngs cheering round the world, triumphant faces wet with tears. And we saw the last embers of McCain's angry machine decisively snuffed, almost shocking the Republican faithful who hadn't tasted such defeat for some time.
And at the end there is a beginning.
Obama spoke to a crowd that was as prepared to work as it was prepared to win. While there was joy in savoring the victory of two years of battle it was not followed by an orgy of gloat. Because the opposition's prognostications of an Obama Nation as a communist gulag rife with Weathermen and taxes were met with the imperturbable parries of a jiu jitsu master. Although to win this election Plough and Company may have taken a page from the Republican playbook (or indeed subsumed the whole thing) they removed the trademark Republican cruelty and replaced it with a disciplined placidity which seems to have aided in securing the right kind of triumph, one in which humility is is paramount.
Obama's speech echoed the rhythms of Lincoln, Kennedy and King, summoning the essences of their greatest speeches while adding the ebullient urgency of his own amazing ascension to this place, in this time. While to his detractors his intellect and grace was derided as elitist arrogance, as seen and heard tonight it is rather inescapably clear that he has emerged in order to carry out a mission: to lead us back to the path upon which America must tread in order to fulfill its destiny, not as a massive, seething, commercial venture but as a progressive land of freedom.
Even in this day of consumerist overkill there is more to life than making money. There is a need for inspiration, for belonging, for hope, for everyone of us to feel connected and secure to a spirit that supersedes the pervasive and omnipresent materialism that has come to embody America. Eight years of spiritual drift has made us thirst for real leadership. The Bush straw man is banished for the moment (who knows for how long?); the oligarchs in their mincing approximations of folksiness having successfully assured the working classes that they should be trusted are now unmasked. The clear majority of people are not buying it anymore.
As Obama has campaigned, so shall he govern. And as he won, so have we won. We must preserve, protect and defend the nation we have won back. We must protect him and in doing so protect ourselves. We, like Barack Obama, will celebrate this moment. But also like Barack Obama, the work is ahead. Can we do it? Yes we can.