Illinois Central

Good morning America, how are you?

Don’t you know me? I’m your native son.

It’s morning in America and the sky is blue.  A polarized nation placed it’s soul in the hands of black man from Illinois over the last two years and last night he delivered on the first part of the promise – that America could bridge the divides that once would have prevented his very election.

Part of the reason Barack Obama is the President-elect of the United States today is that he’s a preacher.  He understands both the practical and the pastoral need to bridge ideological divides, calling for an end to red states and blue states and recalling us to be United States.  His speeches such as the Yes We Can sequence, first debuted after the New Hampshire primary use a historical pride sequence, wrapped equally in our social justice and civil rights landmarks and our civil religion of founding fathers and military honors.  He has pulpit presence and it makes a difference.  Being called to be our best selves is not reserved for Sunday morning or Saturday or Friday. And in a nation where our leaders, even our President have been examples of our worst selves, lying and manipulating us into war, torturing enemies, spying, spreading attitudes of xenophobia and using fear as a weapon of social and political control, being called to a higher purpose resonated.  Barack Obama never had to say, “Americans are not liars, torturers, racists, bigots, spies,etc.”  He didn’t have to. Instead he reminded us what we are and we can do. It was a compelling call and many came to the altar, hoping against hope their fellow citizens would follow; hoping against hope that you, in your isolation weren’t the only one tired to the bone of a long national nightmare.

Every time it seemed the usual forces of fear and hate and cynicism would beat down Obama, he rose to the occasion and delivered yet another sermon.  (UPDATE President-elect Obama’s prepared election eve remarks.)

2008 was the seventh time I’ve voted in a presidential election and he’s only the second winner I’ve ever voted for (Bill Clinton being the first).   I was so happy, I cried during his speech at Grant Park.  It was joy, but it was also relief.  Eight years of deceit, lies, spying, and eroding the freedoms and values upon which our country is founded are finally over.  Yet, it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning of solving the problems created by the worst presidential administration ever.

But this new President-Elect and his campaign have always been about hope. And hope is not an empty thing. It’s kept many of us going for going on eight years now.

Hope, as Andy told Red at Shawshank prison, “iis a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”  And hope is not going away now. It will be a central theme for Obama going forward as he forges the coalition he needs to move his agenda.

Two little black girls will spend childhood in the White House comes a pundit voice from the TV behind me.  Finally, the America that never was but could be is finally starting to become real in astoundingly profound ways.  I’m so glad I’m on the train.

I will provide for you
And I’ll stand by your side
You’ll need a good companion for
This part of the ride
Leave behind your sorrows
Let this day be the last
Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine
And all this darkness past

Big wheels roll through fields
Where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

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