Staying up late and getting up early is not conducive to deep reflection, and reflecting deeply is precisely what we all need to do now that the presidential election is over. As usual, though, I only mean to start a conversation, and so here are a few decidedly random thoughts about the election and the path ahead.
1. The face of America is changing. When I was young, it was very common for white people, even in large cities, to have never met a person of another race. Look at the faces in the crowd at the Obama rally, and you will see what America is quickly becoming. The melting pot that we proclaimed ourselves to be when I was young had some rather severe limiits. Finally, and thankfully, those limits are melting away. There will always be prejudice on some level, but I see in those faces the eventual end of the prejudice of race that has scarred this country from its inception.
2. I hope — I have the conviction in spite of many indications to the contrary — that the most valuable outcome of this election is a return to civil bipartisanship. Elections are so much about the past, about blame and culpability. Yet, when you have a crisis, a real palpable crisis, staring you in the face, blame is irrelevant and the only concern is resolving the crisis. Hurricane Sandy was a graphic, if enormously painful, illustration of the point. In the face of that storm, there were no Republicans or Democrats, no Tea Party, no factions of any kind. Chris Cristie, outspoken Republican governor of New Jersey, did not become a Democrat. He became a governor dedicating every ounce of his efforts to the welfare of the people he governs. One thing is sure — we do face a crisis. Our debt is enormous, and a far too large segment of our population is unemployed. There is absolutely no value to asking who created that problem. There is also absolutely no value to playing power games. The wall between the parties must come down, and the politicians and people must make the sacrifices and compromises necessary to get us back on the right track.
3. Somehow, in some way I cannot yet express, there is a sea change going on in America. Maybe it is the passing of the dominance of the white male. Maybe it is the growth of tolerance. Maybe it is the emergence of the positive side of technology. Whatever it is, last night I felt my country undergo a techtonic shift. Change never comes quickly, but there is always a moment when you sense that the massive, lumbering culture of which you are a tiny part is beginning a significant turn. This one is neither to the right or to the left in the tradictional sense. Maybe it is toward the young. Maybe it is toward greater personal responsibility. I don’t know. I just have a sense that we are moving in a different direction, and I have an inexplicable sense that the new direction is good.
So, it is over. No more calls, no more ads, no more begging. Where now? Let’s talk about that.