I have been blogging ominously for months about American racism and how it could undercut Obama's lead in the polls come election day. I was wrong. Frank Rich was right. In his column today he claims his kudos--and he deserves them. I don't know what made him so sure but he's been saying our fears were exaggerated for months and so it proved.
The key statistic: a higher percentage of white men voted for Obama than for any Democrat since Jimmy Carter. That includes Bill Clinton. Couple that with Michael Sokolove's account of the transformation of Levittown, Pennsylvania into Obama territory and a lot of old 60's cynics like me really need to pause and wonder. In a way, reading the words of the men Sokolove interviewed, men who were overcoming a racial bias they were admitting to even as they pulled the lever, that was as inspiring as anything that happened last week.
And don't say it was all about the economy. More cynicism. Of course that was a huge factor, but not enough to "seal the deal" as they kept saying all through the primaries whenever Obama fell short. Wasn't that what was the matter with Kansas? That self-interest wasn't enough? What did seal the deal? Well, the men interviewed kept saying how smart Obama was and also how they just believed him. But I liked this one best: a man who had said right out that Obama's race was a problem and his name was a problem also said this when he was asked what it would be like to wake up in the morning with a black president-elect: "I do think it's an historic election. Part of me feels like it would be really cool."
That's uplift. That's reaching across, not an aisle, but a gulf. That's what sealed the deal.