A first for everyone
Though President-elect Barack Obama may have been the first African American to be elected president, this election allowed many of us to experience a first as well [“Obama to the White House: elation and disbelief,” Times, Politics & Government, Nov. 4]. In the 30-plus years that I have been voting, this is the first time I’ve voted for someone I truly believed should be president.
— Toni Haley, Seattle
The shoulders of others
Oh, happy day. The election of President-elect Barack Obama was made possible by his image as a candidate transcending the shameful “color line” of our history (in addition to his own eloquence, well-crafted campaign from the grass roots, two wars and an economic disaster).
His election represents a historic achievement of the civil-rights movement.
It is a long-suffering struggle for freedom from Kunta Kinte in “Roots” to the Emancipation Proclamation, from Jim Crow segregation to Brown vs. Board of Education, from Rosa Parks to the sit-ins and Freedom Riders, from the hosing of children and attacks of dogs in Birmingham to the Civil Rights Act, from the murders of Medger Evers, James Cheney, Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodwin and the bloodied witness of Fannie Lou Hamer to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, from the beatings of John Lewis and others at Pettis Bridge in Selma to the Voting Rights Act, from Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech to Oslo and to a Memphis motel, from Operation Breadbasket and Jesse Jackson in Chicago to Rainbow PUSH [a progressive organization fighting for social change] and Jesse Jackson’s respectable runs for president in 1984 and 1988.
Obama stands on the shoulders of others, a line of splendor, sacrifice and blood, which is a consistent clamor for human rights and racial fairness. A cloud of witnesses has brought us to this moment.
May “we, as a people” not forget this “arc of history” as Obama paraphrased King in Grant Park on Election Night. May all the people of this land, may freedom-loving people across the world, feel the accomplishment of this day. Oh, happy day.
— Martin Deppe, Chicago, Ill.
This is why
Change happened on Nov. 4. I saw it on the faces of people all across the country. There was a sudden realization that a barrier that had stood for so long had been broken.
There was a moment of disbelief and then a wave of comprehension as we asked ourselves, “Did this really just happen?” It was a moment so intense that many people were brought to their knees. Some people were scared, but for many this was a day for joy. They let it wash over them like a warm summer breeze.
Quite unexpectedly, it was also a moment that made a 46-year-old white man living in the suburbs of Seattle sit up on his couch and wipe a tear from his eye.
None of us are so naive to think that the election of a black president will erase prejudices. The struggles we have with each other will not go away so easily. But there can be no denying that on Nov. 4, 2008, we showed the world why America is the greatest country in the world.
— Bill Wood, Sumner
Thank your children
Now the hard work begins.
It is tempting to greatly celebrate the election of President-elect Barack Obama, but one is sobered by the huge problems the country faces: the deep divisions in our society, our diminished world standing, the increasingly huge gap between our rich and poor and the dangers of global warming.
As a 72-year-old deeply concerned about the world in which my children and grandchildren are growing up, I applaud the younger generation. Many of them worked very hard to elect Obama and I have every confidence that they will continue in the long road ahead.
They transcend many of the divisions that have haunted us as a nation. They are my hope for the future of the country I love.
— Norm Luther, Underwood
We believe him
Like most Americans, I’m absolutely thrilled that President-elect Barack Obama will be our next president. But I find it frustrating that so many pundits are scrambling to explain why he beat Sen. John McCain.
His tax plan may have been more appealing, his health-care plan may have been more responsible and his opposition to the Iraq war may have been more realistic, but the main reason Obama was elected keeps getting overlooked.
Obama was elected because he’s the first politician in decades who has conveyed a sense of honesty, integrity, sincerity and a profound belief that America can be a better country than it has been in recent history — and Americans believe him.
— Brent Stavig, Seattle
He was just better
After reading all the stories regarding the hoopla about the first African American to become president of the United States, I just have to laugh. Maybe because I was born in 1964 I see things a bit differently.
We were presented with two choices. It was a no-brainer. A young and eloquent man full of ideas and hope or, conversely, a member of the “old guard” who sees a return to the America of the past a viable option.
I think it’s the media that continue to play the race card. Come on — the best candidate won. End of story.
Nobody I have talked to believes that race had any factor in this election. It was simply about making the right choice for us and future generations.
— John Dailey, Seattle
The people have spoken for change in America. This change takes more than a majority; it takes smart, influential leaders in Congress who can help bring this broken country back together. Without this, the enormous economic, environmental and national-security challenges we face cannot be overcome.
Democrats are now in firm control. My wish, as one of them, is that our next move will be to replace Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Pelosi is ineffective, uninspiring and divisive. We must do better. Too much is at stake.
— Dave Gamrath, Seattle
Stop ranking patriotism
If we learn nothing else from this election, please let us learn this: America’s enthusiasm and involvement in the 2008 campaign process proves once and for all that we are a nation of passionate America-lovers, not haters.
It’s time to stop ranking patriotism.
Liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc. may have differing opinions as to how we think this country is best served and protected, but make no mistake about it: We all love her equally.
The sooner this argument stops, the stronger our country will be.
— Robert Wright, Yakima
Intellect and temperament
I’ve been race conscious for some time now. No longer do I endorse or display the bigotry or belittling of people who I now consider fellow citizens, not aliens.
So, it became important to identify just what caused me to join in the endorsement of President-elect Barack Obama. I am weary of those who attach their reasons for my endorsement, because I consider myself thoughtful and not prone to emotional decision.
During a news-analysis program I heard the words that so strongly represented my decision. Obama was described as having “profound intellect and remarkable temperament.”
There it was — the traits I had seen but couldn’t quite verbalize. There was the difference in candidates that made me chose the person who best represents what I expect from the leader of this great country. I wasn’t trying to make history or join in payback; I just wanted to install the best representative.
I hope we have done just that.
— G. Owen Ray, Allyn
It wasn’t Palin
There are plenty of people now blaming Gov. Sarah Palin for Sen. John McCain’s defeat in the presidential election. Seems that when she was first named, they were enamored, but how quickly love died.
Perhaps if McCain’s folks had properly examined her record, beliefs, knowledge and behavior, they might not have brought her on board. But it was McCain’s decision, and he has to live with it. Palin was just being herself.
Still, it seems she makes a convenient scapegoat up there in Alaska. I can’t help but wonder if that’s the end of the Republican’s self-reflection, because they don’t seem to have a clue why they lost.
It wasn’t really Palin.
Hint from the former President Clinton administration: It’s the economy, stupid.
— Marilyn Schulz, Redmond
Proud to be an American
I cannot recall a more important day in my life than Nov. 4, 2008. On this day, our severely flawed, fractured and deeply polarized nation was able to put aside racial fears and biases and voted willingly and with deep passion and enthusiasm to elect a talented and capable African-American man to the most important job in our country.
During my childhood, there were many places in our country where there were three restrooms: one for white men, one for white women and a third for “coloreds.” Blacks were barred from many schools and universities simply because of the pigmentation of their skin.
Tuesday was a great day for African Americans for sure. But it was an equally great day for white Americans, disabled Americans and for all other citizens who have been disenfranchised in one way or another over the years.
It was also a great day for the world. As Martin Luther King said 45 years ago, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
King’s dream came true. I am proud of my country. I am proud to be an American.
— Tim Jones, Sammamish