It was a spectacle to witness the collective euphoria that ensued last week after Barack Obama defeated John McCain in the presidential race. Moments after the polls closed on the west coast and, one by one, every major news network projected Obama the winner, I listened from my apartment in Milwaukee as each corner of the city simultaneously burst into jubilant celebration. I stayed up until early Wednesday morning and watched ABC News broadcast live feeds of parties as they took place in the streets of DC, Harlem, Los Angeles, and Times Square. The following day, it was as if the students on campus here at Marquette University were walking on air. Most of my friends and family members could barely contain themselves, whether in conversation, e-mail, or in the updates and comments posted to their social networking site(s) of choice. Barack Obama became the first minority ever to be elected US president, the first black person to occupy the highest office in the land. His campaign motivated young people and minorities to be politically active in ways the nation hasn't seen since the 1960's. His victory signaled an end to eight years of far-right rule under George W. Bush. There was and still is much to celebrate. However, the gravity of the difficulties our nation now faces demanded anything but prolonged celebration.
By Thursday, it was back to business as usual, and speculation about what an Obama administration would look like soon ran rampant throughout the media and the Internet. Obama announced Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, and planned a meeting with his economic advisers. Pro-Palestinians and those seeking a peaceful, two-state solution to the Arab-Israel conflict claimed that Emanuel would be a rabid dog in foreign policy matters, constantly whispering pro-Israeli sentiments in Obama's ear, which they claimed if acted on, would only serve to escalate the violence. By contrast, many Zionists were at least apprehensive that Obama might turn his back on Israel. On Sunday morning, I watched the local and national political television shows as many Republicans continued to label Obama The Most Liberal Member of the US Senate, a charge constantly leveled against him throughout the the presidential campaign. Yet, commentators on well known liberal news shows such as Democracy Now! claimed just the opposite; Obama is, and will remain, a conservative, they said. Now that's a headspinner! How can one man simultaneously occupy mutually exclusive positions in the political spectrum?
Obama won the election for a number of reasons, but mainly, I think, because of his message of change: reformation of health care, development of so-called green energy, a return to a more progressive taxation system, a definite plan to end our military operatives in Iraq and Afghanistan, more transparency in politics, a break from the divisive politics of the past 28 years, etc. Many now wait in anticipation, anxious to see an Obama administration implement those changes he claimed he would bring to America. Some are blinded by their optimism that he will unquestionably deliver on his promises. Others, as mentioned above, have defaulted to the same tired old divisions, seeing only compromise and failure in his future. I suppose its natural after such a grandiose historical event to whip out one's crystal ball and dream about what the future holds. Yet merely because such dreaming is natural, this doesn't count in favor of its accuracy. Right now, speculation and anticipation rule the day, when what we sorely need is some patience, keen observation, and a readiness to speak up when things begin to go awry.
Speculation and Anticipation Rule the Day by Nathan M. Blackerby is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.