I was with an American friend last night, and even at 11pm she didn’t dare believe it was going to happen.
It did though, it really did.
Writers with a firmer grasp on the issues, the times and the rhetoric you need for them have delivered the goods. And of course Obama himself did. His speech wasn’t as exuberant as it could have been, and it didn’t luxuriate in the achievement itself as an isolated moment of incredible success. Instead it was thoughtful and powerful. Touchingly, the language emphasises that this is bigger than one man. Bigger that one campaign, more important than one election and one choice. It echoes with repetition, it’s rich with patterns and has a solid structure which gives a sense that a chain of voices made this happen; that this moment is linked to many more and that what you do now matters to the future and that everything is connected:
“This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call.”
And then there’s what George W. Bush had to say to Obama:
“What an awesome night for you, your family and your supporters. You are about to go on one of the great journeys of life. Congratulations and go enjoy yourself.”
Sounds more like what a parent says to someone who’s finished their A-Levels and is about to go on a gap year.
Picture via Waxy.