Obama’s Victory as Progress, Not History
Chicago, Ill — This victory is more than historic. President-elect Barack Obama’s victory marks political progress far broader than race — especially because his campaign de-emphasized it whenever possible.
The tens of thousands of people cheering here in Grant Park, at what is shaping up to be one of the largest victory celebrations in U.S. political history, are not just heralding another barrier broken in America. They are honoring a promise fulfilled — the advancement of a rare political leader who addresses the public honestly, engages his opponents respectfully and communes with his supporters openly. He built an agenda through a participatory politics that empowers organizers and upends civic culture by expanding the electorate.
In political terms, that means that Obama did not win “red states” Tuesday by treating them like red states. He did not energize his base by neglecting it. He did not convert wing voters by pandering to their occupational and cultural identities. After all the soundbites piled up, in fact, it was still Obama who had an actual policy conversation with Joe the Plumber, while Sen. John McCain invoked the everyman as a human prop.
Across the country, people, with their votes and their activism, are embracing the “change” agenda. Some scuffling over credit, priorities and ideology is inevitable, but the basics are clear: end the Iraq war; renew the economy; conquer corruption; prioritize alternative energy; pursue universal health care; and renew our civic life with a politics of good faith. It is ambitious, difficult and long overdue.