- November 5th, 2008
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I’m not sure what its like where you guys are right now, but I can give you this report from the city.
People are going NUTS. horns are honking, people are in the streets cheering, NYU has gone completely off the rails. My friends from all over town are reporting the same thing. 2 close friends who live on the border of manhattan and harlem are saying there is pretty much the largest block party ever happening up there. The excitement is palpable. I even felt myself compelled to stick my airhorn out a 35th floor window and send a few blasts out; people are lighting off fireworks, etc.
Now why is this a big deal you ask? New Yorkers don’t go nuts on a mass scale like this for anything, really. The Yankees win the world series, and we get a bit of drunken shouting. Rangers – stanley cup, Jets – superbowl or any other sporting type thing, we get a little cheering and thats it, really. Never anything sustained on this scale. Even the 2+ million people who showed up for the halloween parade last weekend seem to pale in comparison to this.
Ask yourself the last time you saw people cheering in the streets for politics in this country. (outside of partisan rallies and the like, naturally) It certainly hasn’t been in my lifetime. Also ask yourself the last time we had leaders who are orators of this calibre. My call is the era of MLK and JFK. You can say what you want about them, but everyone gets chills when they hear “I have a dream”, “ask not what your country can do”, and “I have been to the mountaintop”. Obama’s victory speech, while not quite that good, certainly inspires in the context of the time we live in. I believe that it is the job of a leader to inspire as well as to govern, and that it is probably more important that he be able to do the former than the latter. (again, like JFK)
No president can solve the problems we have in this country right now. Not even with the mandate and stocked congress that Obama will have. But we now have something better, and more important. Hope. This has inspired hope in a generation of cynical people. It has given us a hope that we are actually empowered to change things and make a difference as individuals in the greater collective. That is something that will transcend sessions of congress, economic problems, overseas conflicts, energy crisis, and issues of faith. And it will take the collective individual wills of a hopeful nation to address all of these issues, not just the will of a president and some congressmen.
The record turnout for this election is proof that many are ready to work for a change. Many of the problems we face, particularly the economy, are problems based around the idea of fear. Once people begin to collectively believe that change is possible and it starts to actually happen, the perception in the markets will change, and things will get better. And that will reinforce the idea that hope can lead us to do whatever we set our minds to: alternative energy, diplomatic resolution of international conflicts, etc; and this will feed on itself much the same way that fear has been feeding on itself the past few years. And people will realize that hope and inspiration can overcome fear so long as they have faith that it will, and are willing to do the work.
And that will change everything.