I don’t usually go rogue with this blog, unless it’s about music or books, so I hope you’ll indulge me as I post a few thoughts about last night’s election. To probably misquote the former GOP senator from Wyoming, Alan Simpson, “Everything that needs to be said has been said, but not by everybody.” So, I’ll say my part.
Last night, the United States elected a man who symbolizes hope and renewal for our nation. I just hope we as a nation don’t put all of our hopes on a single human to right our course as a country. Because no one person can do it alone.
Hope this doesn’t come as a bummer to your election-night giddiness, America, but this is my greatest fear of an Obama presidency: that the hope he symbolizes and personifies will become more than he can bear.
Barack Obama is as human and as frail as any of us, and as he acknowledged in his acceptance speech, “There will be setbacks and false starts.” No doubt there will be missteps, too.
Obama also said, “The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.”
I also have never been more hopeful. I have voted in every presidential election since I was first eligible in 1980, when incumbent Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan. (For the record, I voted for a third-party candidate, John Anderson. So don’t blame me.) I’ve voted for some winners and some losers, but never, ever in my 28 years of eligibility to vote in a presidential election have I ever felt more hopeful, more excited, and more optimistic for my nation as I do today.
I know many don’t share that enthusiasm. In my region of rural Missouri, where McCain appears to have a slight edge over Obama (CNN has yet to call it), the tenor is conservative. I suspect many Missourians will be somber today. Many will be pissed off. Many will have the attitude that the Obama presidency will be an utter failure, a descent into socialism and moral depravity.
But the future of our nation does not rest on Obama’s shoulders. It rests on ours. Those of us in the business of higher education play an important role in our nation’s future. In my lifetime, it’s never been more critical. The higher education system in the United States is still a beacon for the world. In the next four years, my hope is that our nation will invest in rebuilding our schools, rebuilding our roads, bridges and buildings, and creating a green economy that can thrive and be the leader for the rest of the world.
But that job is not up to the politicians alone. It’s up to all of us. Let’s do our part.
In closing, I’ll share a point a friend made on Twitter last night:
It’s never as bad as the losers think and never as good as the winners expect. God bless America and our new president.