The American Experiment and Barack Obama

In the wee-hours of this morning, around 3 am, Andrew Sullivan was dazzlingly eloquent about Barack Obama’s reelection. I’m especially struck by this sentence:

What he reminded me of was how deeply American he actually is – how this country’s experiment truly is in diversity as well as democracy.

Sullivan has hit upon something here: if America is an experiment in democracy and diversity, then Barack Obama is a deeply American phenomenon. The white nativist and fundamentalist right has been fighting tooth-and-nail to take the word “American” away from President Obama and to scrub his legacy and accomplishments from our collective narrative. But last night put the rebuke upon this effort. The majority said no. Barack Obama is not an illegitimate president and his legacy and story is now a permanent part of us. He is our American president.

Here’s Sullivan again:

[O]ne felt something tectonic shift tonight. America crossed the Rubicon of every citizen’s access to healthcare, and re-elected a black president in a truly tough economic climate. The shift toward gay equality is now irreversible. The end of prohibition of marijuana is in sight. Women, in particular, moved this nation forward – pragmatically, provisionally, sensibly. They did so alongside the young whose dedication to voting was actually greater this time than in 2008, the Latino voters who have made the current GOP irrelevant, and African-Americans, who turned up in vast numbers, as in 2008, to put a period at the end of an important sentence.

That sentence will never now be unwritten. By anyone.

Andrew Sullivan forgot to mention all the white males who also voted for Obama. Many millions of us affirmed Obama’s presidency too. Obama is the Bobby Kennedy of our time, this time winning rather than dying. And we said yes to him. We all secured something last night. We overcame.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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