History was made in the United States Tuesday with the election of Barack Obama as our 44th president.
For the last couple of days, I’ve tried writing about any number of topics related to Election Day, but I stop each time because I find myself rehashing feelings accumulated over the last eight years. At one point, I put together a long list of the current administration’s flaws in an attempt to explain why the reaction to Obama’s win was so jubilant. In another draft, I found myself picking apart the McCain campaign because it seemed to be based solely on tearing down the opponent rather than presenting solid plans to fix the nation’s problems.
I was also ready to tell the stories of a couple of ultra-conservative acquaintances I have who have spent the last year posting negative (and sometimes even hateful) blog entries. With the election over and the outcome decided, one of them still can’t come to terms with the fact that Republicans lost, instead focusing much of his energy on conspiracy theory-filled tirades.
I don’t think either activity — me dwelling on the past eight years or diatribes blasting Obama and the Democrats — is especially helpful at this point. But then again, that’s usually the tough part about politics, especially for someone struggling to walk a middle way.
There is something to be said for practicing mindful politics, which seems to get more difficult each year as the rhetoric gets sharper, or as our collective situation gets more dire — the global economic downtown, our shared climate crisis and genocide raging out of control in hotspots around the planet all work together to create a sense of urgency.
We must find a way to collaborate on our problems, and we can’t do that very well if Politician A has his press people firing off snide statements to the media about every little thing that Politician B does. We have to find a way to recognize and embrace the fact that we’ve all got the same basic needs, regardless of political party.
We all have an opportunity to seize on the historic nature of Barack Obama’s election and forge a new path. The challenges that we face are far too important to have our leaders only give 50 percent, with one eye on the problem and the other on the folks across the aisle.
Already, I’ve heard talk of how one party will start working today to gain more seats in 2010, or to capture the White House in 2012. That approach is short-sighted at best, and could prove to be harmful to all of us in the long run.
Politics should be the vehicle that allows us to improve our lives and the world around us, not an annual bloodsport designed to pit neighbor against neighbor. It’s important, at least for me, to keep that in perspective, especially now that we have a chance to bring about change, which will require some give-and-take for all involved.