Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dancing In The Streets


Tuesday night on Seattle's Capitol Hill, s crowd of around 3,000 gathered for an impromptu celebration. I've never seen anything like the worldwide outpouring of goodwill over the election of a politician. It's remarkable. It makes me proud. Watch as the revelers break into a spontaneous rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner":


As hard as it may be to sing, I've always liked that old song and I've always thought we had a great flag. What I've never liked -- what I've resented -- is the hijacking by the right of our national symbols. They've equated the flag with a cramped, nativist patriotism and support of their own agenda, and flatly accused Americans who differed with them of being unpatriotic and of hating the country. In this video, 3000 Seattleites not only take back the flag and the song, they offer it up to everyone...

There is a lot of hard work ahead and the country has serious problems. (Joe Biden told the attendees of a Seattle fundraiser that Bush and Cheney were leaving behind "a hell of a mess.") Our finances are a wreck. Our infrastructure continues to crumble. The gap between rich and poor is the greatest it has ever been. We have not transitioned out of a manufacturing economy in any way that benefits working people and allows them to live with security and dignity. Fifty million Americans lack health insurance, tens of millions more lack adequate insurance. We started an awful war that has left tens of thousands dead, displaced millions more, and cost billions of dollars. The Bush Administration has put the Constitution at risk through its penchant for secrecy, by exploiting 9/11 to increase the power of the executive branch, and by its contempt for fundamental civil liberties. But in the past, history has blessed us with the exact right leader at the country's most desperate turns. Barack Obama has the ability, the temperament, and the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. He represents the change we can believe in, the change we desperately need...

Meanwhile, the blame game in Nutsoland begins. Here's a proscription list, sort of like in ancient Rome minus the competence. "Criticize Obama, you’re a racist. Criticize Romney and you’re a bigot. Well, then put me in the racist bigot category, because I can’t stand a Racists, Marxist, anti-semite like Obama and I can’t stand a lying flaming liberal pro homosexual agenda, pro socialized medicine, pro gun control, anti-Reagan back stabbing loser like Romney." Hey, if the shoe fits...

Henry Louis Gates writes movingly of the end of the last color line, and compares Obama's election to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation: 
On that first transformative day, when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Frederick Douglass, the greatest black orator in our history before Martin Luther King Jr., said that the day was not a day for speeches and "scarcely a day for prose." Rather, he noted, "it is a day for poetry and song, a new song."
It hasn't escaped Stupid and Contagious' notice that Obama is black again. (He thinks that's a good thing.)...

Foxessa blogs about voting in a precinct near Ground Zero
Our part of the city is one of the places to which freedmen and women flowed during and post the Civil War, to work in the textile factories and sweat shops that were here. We’re also only blocks east of the old wharfs (which were very busy in those days), and the warehouses serviced by the railroads. Many New York state's people of color had already been working over there. The oldest continuing operating business/building in the city is there, now called the Ear Inn, but was the James Brown House, that serviced the black labor force employed on the docks and the railroads, and provided rooms too. The building we live in was thrown up originally to provide housing for this influx up from the South. All this felt very close to us today.

3 comments:

Pete said...

Standing in Grant Park, I never felt so emotional singing the anthem, but it felt like our country had been saved. And this time it wasn't, as you mentioned, connected to jingoism or the right wing in any way. It was nice.

Sylvia K said...

You are so right about it all. The tears flowed during his speech that night and it reflected -- again, the kind of man he is. He wasn't waving his victory in the face of Republicans, he was in many ways almost somber, because he realizes how much work has to be done to rebuild this country. He's a great man, president -- already!

Scrumpy's Baker said...

Oh to have been in Chicago that night! It felt electric even through the TV.