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Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Change Has Come
The Sunshine Superman
(photographed at the corner of Sweetzer and Melrose, Los Angeles)
I haven't written about politics until now, reserving this space for discussion of life in the trenches of Hollywood, and I don't intend to bring up the subject again. But the events of this day deserve some attention. The previously unthinkable has happened -- a black man has been elected President of the United States. Not even in the halcyon days of "West Wing" could Aaron Sorkin have dreamed up, much less filmed, such a scenario, but here we are.
It's about time.
As a life-long Left Coast Liberal, I'm happy about the results of this election. I liked what Barak Obama had to say, and the way he said it. I supported another candidate in the primary, but came down for Obama in the finals. He appears to be a very smart and extraordinarily thoughtful young man -- and we're going to need a long succession of such smart, thoughtful leaders in the years to come if we're to survive the torrential shit-rains coming our way.
John McCain made one hell of a concession speech tonight -- his best speech of this long and brutally bitter campaign. To me, this was the old John McCain, the McCain who was so thoroughly and disgracefully trashed in South Carolina by the Bush/Rove team of political assassins in the campaign of 2000. We finally saw the real John McCain tonight, not the shrill, absurd caricature out stumping around the country these past few months in this, the longest campaign in history. I felt sorry for John McCain tonight -- a good man led astray in the end by ambition and the political reality of running for a party that will not tolerate any deviation from its rigid ideological orthodoxy.
But politics is a zero-sum game -- for one to win, another must lose -- and tonight, Barak Obama emerged the winner. In the end, I think we'll all be better off for this: white and black, red and blue, right and left, Americans one and all. The challenges facing the world now are enormous -- an economic disaster of a magnitude unprecedented in modern times, geopolitical threats that could prove existential in nature, and a slowly unfolding cascade of environmental catastrophe that threatens to overwhelm everything else. The next twenty years are crucial. If we don't throw everything we've got into this effort, we're fucked -- all of us -- in ways most people can't even imagine.
Big bad changes are coming no matter what, but the right leadership can at least offer us a chance to soften the coming blows, and perhaps the opportunity to ease into a more sustainable future. The America of that future won't look much like the past or present, but with a lot of effort and some luck, it just might morph into a culture that can survive.
Barak Obama is not Superman. He can't walk across the Potomac and turn water into wine, nor will he be able to cut the Gordian Knot of our seemingly intractable problems with a single clean blow. But it's amazing what a truly motivated and united people can accomplish behind intelligent, thoughtful leadership. Lord knows we've suffered through the other side of that equation for the last eight years, and the dismal results are there to see in the daily headlines. Barak Obama won't work miracles, but at least he offers us a chance to turn the tide in the right direction before we slide into the abyss.
He can't do it alone, of course. It's we the people who must do the heavy lifting, we the people who will have to make the sacrifices essential to building a viable, sustainable future. That future is in our hands.
Barak Obama can point the way, but the rest is up to us.