November 4, 2008

Just feel compelled to say that if Barack Obama wins today (and make no mistake – we believe he will win today), that that will happen not just because of the qualities of the candidate or the strength of his arguments. It will happen, first and foremost, because of the hard work that was done over the past couple of YEARS by millions and millions of people in this country. We here at Moxie’s World have to admit that we are ashamed that we have done none of this work. While we have sat and complained and whined about George W. Bush and the Republicans for almost an entire decade, millions of others have worked hard for change, and today they will likely succeed. While we were writing off America as a country of imbeciles, rednecks, and bigots, tens of millions of Americans were reclaiming their country. These were not wealthy people with leisure time and ample resources. These were not people with power, or people who would be rewarded with money and power for their hard work. These were people who, while working demanding jobs, raising families, and dealing with life’s many ups and downs, selflessly gave their time, energy, and money day after day, at great sacrifice, out of nothing besides the strength of their convictions. They had sleepless nights, made countless phone calls, wrote editorials and letters, knocked on doors, held signs on street corners in rain and cold, traveled long miles on buses, gave money when they had little. Ideologues like ourselves here at Moxie’s World will celebrate and pat ourselves on the back tonight if Obama wins for being ‘right.’ But the people who worked hard for change are the ones who deserve ALL of the credit.

But make no mistake – this is only the beginning. This country is in shambles. Eight years of George W. Bush have left this country at its lowest point in many decades. The challenges before us are vast. Our standing in the world is greatly diminished. Our reputation is sullied. Our credibility shredded. The outcome of this election cannot change those facts overnight. Additionally, and even more importantly, we are in economic crisis. Our economy is coming unglued. Wealth is more concentrated than it has been since before the Great Depression. Poverty is rising. Our public schools are the laughing stock of the developed world, and quality education is reserved for the well-to-do. Our infrastructure – from our highways to our public transit, our communications infrastructure, computer broadband, bridges and tunnels, airports, intercity rail lines, freight – is in a dismal state. We are in the process of losing two wars. We face environmental disaster on several fronts. Our country’s most beautiful natural treasures are being irreparably damaged, and some, such as the Everglades, may already be beyond saving. Tens of millions of us are either uninsured or under-insured. Our life expectancy and infant mortality rates lag those of our peer countries, despite the fact that we spend much more per capita on healthcare. We continue to be plagued by wastefulness, ignorance, hate, bigotry, and religious zealotry. I could go on and on and on.

This is not the way America should be.

Not all of this, of course, can be put on Bush, but the past eight years have either caused or greatly exacerbated EVERY SINGLE ONE of these problems. And the 2008 campaign has laid bare exactly how much racism and ignorance and hatred continue to fester in this country.

We at Moxie’s World are incorrigible cynics, but we are also American, and Americans perhaps more than anything else have a tremendous capacity to achieve the impossible and maintain hope just when everything is at its darkest. In the early 1930s we faced an America in severe decline. Years of Republican rule left this country in shambles. A once mighty economy, the envy of the entire world, lay waste, with our citizens sleeping outdoors and standing in breadlines. The Midwest, the breadbasket of the world, was hit by drought, its farmers scattered to the far corners of the country. People starved in the richest nation on Earth. At the same time, the Nazis were rising to power in Germany, and were building the most powerful war machine the world had ever seen. The Holocaust was beginning. Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist, had begun the Great Purges, and was in the process of starving millions to death in Ukraine and uprooting whole peoples in the Caucasus and elsewhere. A nighttime flight over most of the USSR would see nothing but the glittering lights of a vast Gulag Empire. Here in America, Jim Crow and segregation was the rule in the South, with no end in sight. Lynchings were common. Racism as normal a part of life as breathing.

Today Hitler and Stalin are long-gone memories. America not only emerged from the Great Depression but built the world’s most powerful army and navy virtually overnight, conducted the first successful sea invasion of Europe since 1066, and spread democracy to the Continent and to Japan. We liberated and rebuilt Europe, created the world’s largest middle-class society, ended segregation, defeated communism, put human beings on the surface of the moon. Who could have predicted this in the early 1930s?

Our challenges today are enormous, but certainly no greater than they were then. If Barack Obama wins today, it will force the world to reevaluate the United States. The election of a black man with the middle name Hussein (as his enemies have taken such glee in pointing out), a liberal from the South Side of Chicago, whose father came from poverty in Africa, does not – believe me! – jibe with most of the world’s preconceptions of this country. This does not mean the world will suddenly love us – they won’t – but they will be forced to reevaluate us. We have tremendous opportunities in front of us, but only if we are willing to do a lot of hard work, and maintain the stamina to do that work over time. For those of us who have not worked hard to achieve what may (and likely will) be achieved today, there is no shortage of opportunity to make up for that. And if we do not, believe me, our enemies at home and abroad will not hesitate to undo whatever victory we may achieve today.

There are certain events so huge in their significance or symbolism that they hold a special place in our collective memory as Americans. September 11th. The moon landing. The Kennedy Assassination. July 4th. If we elect the first African-American president, today will be one of those days. This cannot be overstated. It may not fully feel like it right now, but we are in the middle of a day that, depending on the outcome of this election, will go down in history, and we will all remember where we were and what we did. This country was born with slavery. It was torn apart by a war over slavery. Racism is etched into our history as much as democracy, liberty, or individualism. Racism will not disappear today regardless of the election’s outcome. But if we elect Barack Obama president, it is not just the rest of the world that will be forced to reevaluate America. We will be forced to reevaluate ourselves. We will be forced to confront our own history, and our own future, in a different light.

Technologically, socially, demographically, politically, this country is changing at an enormous rate. This election, in the end, will likely reflect those changes. There are terrible dangers but great possibility. We are, HOPEFULLY, emerging from long years of darkness.

Vote. Let’s win this. Then celebrate.

Then get to work.


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