There are any number of reasons to celebrate. First and foremost, an African-American has achieved the presidency. It has not been easy, a two-year-long slog against some of the most vicious smears we have heard in modern elections at a cost of some 700 million dollars. Obama has achieved all of this while maintaining admirable coolness of head, speaking to people not only in the soaring rhetoric for which he has earned fame but more importantly by respecting the intelligence of voters. He spoke to us as adults. He appealed to common cause. He campaigned in states that his fellow Democrats had previously written off, as if other voters mattered beyond “the base.” He ran a ground-and-internet operation that has changed politics in a more populist direction, motivating millions of people to vote who had never voted before.
I have a long list of concerns about war, the economy, health care and so on. But there is plenty of time for that – plenty of cartoons to draw on those subjects in the future. For now I am relieved. The rest of the world has been watching this election, wondering if we have learned anything from the mistakes we have made. The real test of that is coming. The election of Barack Obama demonstrates that we have the potential to renew ourselves at home and abroad.