Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Not a bad week if you're a Philly Democrat

Last Wednesday, I watched my beloved Philadelphia Phillies do the improbable and win the World Series. Less than a week later, this was topped by what could be considered even more unlikely - the country elected it's first black president.

As a not so secretive liberal and an even less quiet Phillies fan, I am on cloud nine right now. While a lot of us, including Obama himself, have preached for unity and working across aisles, I can't help but pause and gloat for a bit about the Democratic landslide victory that swept the nation, changed the political map, and might even get us the magic 60 in the Senate.

Look, I want to get things done and pass laws and make everyone happy, but I'll worry about that on Thursday. On Wednesday, the day after the election, I want to rub it in Republican faces that Democrats outcampaigned, outworked, and outhustled them across the board. They are a completely fractured party with half of the GOP wanting to return to Lincoln ideals and half wanting to be as right wing conservative as possible. After watching Democrats fight internally for years while Republicans remained disciplined and in power under Tom Delay's watch, I'm taking a little pride in watching them tear each other apart as they figure out what's next.

From a policy standpoint, I'm not crazy-lack-of-showering liberal and I can get along with the best of them and agree to disagree, but it's hard for me to be chomping at the bit to unify with a group of people who year after year have gone out of their way to divide the country and restrict the rights of women, gays, and anyone else who is not a straight, white male. I'm taking today to be completely intolerant of the Republican Party since they spent so long being intolerant of everyone other than themselves. Are Dems perfect? No. But we learned from Jim Crowe and our past. We don't all feel the need to legislate on social issues. We don't tell women they have no control over their bodies and we don't tell gays that marriage doesn't apply to them. On Tuesday night, the map changed. Obama won or performed strongly in areas of the country where no one expected him to hold down the fort. He really did something special.

For the first time in a while, Dems won't be able to blame negative government actions on the Republican Party. We're going to have to take responsibility for our own actions and decisions. We might fail, we might rise up. It's a territory we haven't experienced since 1992.

Watching the coverage last night, it started to hit me how amazing it is that we elected a black president. My mother called me excited about the results and screaming that "Bobby Kennedy said this would happen. This is history!" and I watched as CNN gave close up to numerous faces in the crowd who were overcome with emotion. I took a class in college where there was a heated discussion about whether or not the Civil Rights battle was a success for African Americans. The discussion steered towards the debate as to whether or not there have been any really successful black leaders since MLK. When I received text messages from my friend Karl telling me that his neighbors were voting for the first time in 20 years, it continued to hit me. This means more than we can ever imagine to those who fought for African American equality. For all his faults, Jesse Jackson must be extremely proud of this. Guys like John Lewis, who fought during the civil rights era and had the hoses and dogs turned on them. For them, this makes the fights of the 50's and 60's worth it.

The comment that struck me the most last night came from CNN and was in reference to the image of the Obamas on stage. They are the First Family now. The rest of the world will watch our news and see that our country elected a black family to the White House to represent us and our ideals. It's pretty amazing. Our history books will be forever changed. Children growing up now know more than ever that anything is achievable.

And obviously in a year where the Phillies can parade a World Series trophy down South Broad street, we know that anything can happen.

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