I suppose I got caught up in the emotion of the night due almost exclusively to the genuine and copious tears of black Americans. The ones I spoke to and interviewed were nearly speechless with joy. With a start, I realized something that had escaped me all these long months of writing and thinking about this race. For many African-Americans, this election was a spiritual event, something that transcended the corporeal and brought to mind ancestral yearnings and desires for freedom.
For perhaps many blacks, Obama is the word made flesh — the redemption of the promise in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” The small sample of blacks I interviewed all spoke of the shattering of barriers, the hope that an Obama presidency would translate into a more just society, and the belief that for them personally, their lives would never be the same.
It struck me then and now that the world has turned upside down. When I was a boy, a black man could not get a sandwich at a lunch counter in much of the country. Now a black man has been elected president of the United States, receiving more votes from whites than his predecessor of 2004.
Commenter “portia9” cautions poignantly:
Where I come from, no matter how smart you are, no matter how hard you work you are extremely unlikely to ever achieve the kind of success that is available to citizens of the U.S. If by some unbelievable stroke of fortune you do achieve it, you will be taxed very heavily, penalized really, for your efforts. There is no can-do spirit. There is nothing like the “American Dream” because that dream exists nowhere but here.
Everything that I have learned about President Elect Obama leads me to believe that he does not cherish the American Dream. He does not believe in it, although, ironically, he is a prime beneficiary of it. He would rather remake this country in the image of those his friends and allies like William Ayers cherish. Socialist countries. Communist countries.
In the decade I have lived here, I have come to realize just how precious the much maligned “American Dream” really is. I was taught as a university student in Canada that it is a fiction, but I have learned through living here that it is real. Socialism is not the answer for this country. America has made a devastating choice this election. I only hope that he will not be able to change this country so much that it will be unrecognizable in four years.
I hope that Obama’s actual performance in office won’t merit these fears, but I fear portia9’s concerns are well-founded.