Thursday, November 6, 2008

Birth of a World Leader

I got thinking today during a long afternoon walk.

I've supported Obama for a few years. I was impressed with his convention speech in 2004, and happened to hear him speak more informally a few times after that, and again, I was impressed with his intelligence, responsiveness, and through command of the issues--not just party talking points. So I looked deeper, and liked his command of strategy, his willingness to delve into new, but not reckless, approaches, and to follow them aggressively. I also liked his understanding that yes, things will get messy, but we can still strive for the positive.

I was delighted when he won the primary. I watched anxiously as we approached Election Day, and started to relax as I saw the red/blue map redrawn in part. A popular win as well as an electoral win, and a decisive one. I was happy indeed, as I believe that we have elected a president who can lead practically, delve into the complexities of issues, look ahead to the long term, and inspire us to again unite and be proud of our country, not just our party or our slice of the country's many beliefs.

I hadn't thought about the race issue other than standing against the racist/Islamic charges, as I truly believe in the man. Election night, I really started to realize that yes, of course, this has got to be a major event for black Americans, even as Obama didn't run based on race. And all those references to Lincoln in the acceptance speech--last few elections the Republicans emphasized they were the party of Lincoln, not so much this time--as well as Dr. King, and I started to appreciate the historic importance of this election beyond my own political preferences.

But today, listening to voices around the globe, I also started to realize that we have elected not only a president, but a world leader. I knew he would be more popular than Bush, that he would strive to work with other countries when reasonable, but I'm catching a glimpse of just what expectations people have for this new president. We also talk about, carelessly really, America as the "leader of the free world," but this time we've actually elected such a world leader.

Many, many problems stand in the way of progress, of course. But I believe we have found a leader up to the task, able to build for the long term, capable of careful consultation with others of the same ilk. I know others don't always share these beliefs, but at least a number of them have made clear they will stand behind their new president and work together as we can, and that's the start of a nation and a world that can start to first believe and then realize--yes we can.