by Jason Fischer
I stayed up late to hear our newly elected president, Barack Obama, address the crowd that had gathered in Chicago’s Grant Park. I had mixed feelings about the landslide victory that I had watched unfold on Fox News for the several hours preceding his speech. On the one hand, I was frustrated to see my government slide further down the path towards a welfare state, all too willing to prop up those who are unwilling to do their share. On the other, I was oddly pleased to see an election that was not contentiously close, breeding polarization and animosity toward the successful candidate (i.e., year 2000 all over again). Even though I was part of the 46% of voters who chose John McCain, I still had a guarded awe and significant amount of respect for the united majority. I found myself believing, just for a moment, that such unity might come back to the country as a whole.
My internal division widened significantly as I listened, earlier in the evening, to the crowd in Arizona boo at McCain when he congratulated Obama for his win. I mentally scolded those conservatives for refusing to face the reality that their derision is futile and only hurts our chances for accord. I was doubly ashamed when the crowd in Chicago cheered for John McCain, when Barack Obama congratulated him for a well-fought campaign. My desire for a unified nation peaked when President Elect Obama promised, in his speech, to be a uniting force for this country. He promised to listen to those who disagree with him, especially when they disagreed. I have little trouble saying that I support him, if he can be taken at his word. I am more than a little wary, because he doesn’t have a real track record of bringing people together over their differences. From what I’ve seen, President Elect Obama’s community organizing experience has been entirely in bringing liberals together. He’s going to have to do more. He’s going to have to do better.
For the moment, as I have little choice in the matter, I am satisfied with giving Obama the benefit of the doubt. Don’t make me sorry, Mr. President Elect. I’m counting on you to recognize that, while a majority of the nation may have voted for you, you cannot summarily ignore the constituency that did not. You have a duty to us, too. You have a duty to all Americans, liberal or conservative, black or white, rich or poor. Please stay true to tonight’s message.