Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations Barack Obama

Congratulations to Barack Obama. He ran a great campaign. He excited and energized great numbers of people to vote. His victory has helped heal and cleanse one of the great stains upon our national history and character. His victory has proven the inherent greatness of the idea of America.

I remember vividly 34 years ago when I worked as a volunteer for the election of Charles “Pug” Ravenel, a Democrat running for governor of South Carolina. I remember how much I was energized and excited about being a part of that campaign. I was not yet even old enough to vote, yet there I was canvassing neighborhoods, and sitting in living rooms (complete with my long hair) talking with older couples and anyone who would listen about the issues of the day! That experience impacted my whole life.

I have seen the excitement of young people pulling for Obama. I saw tonight the sheer exuberance of so many African Americans. I doubt I can ever really understand the significance to African Americans of Obama's victory. I am happy for my African American neighbors. I hope the momentum of young people and the previously alienated or disenfranchised being engaged will continue.

I wrote Tuesday of my fears. I had over the course of the last few months moved from openness to Obama's candidacy to opposition to his candidacy. I had seen an undercurrent of anger, and had a sense of radical views that caused me deep concern. It is possible that what I have perceived as anger is but a quirk of his style, or the urgency of his battle for the Presidency. I hope so.

It is my hope in the days and weeks and months ahead that I will be proven wrong. I hope that Obama will indeed do what he has said he will do, and that is, bring a different way of doing business in Washington. I worry more over the House and Senate and I will hope that Obama will not be their patsy. Thinking of Pelosi and Reid I am inclined to say, "Good luck with that." It won't be easy.

I find some hope that perhaps Obama has learned much from the tendency in the past of the left to over reach in such times. Frankly I still really don’t know what Obama is about, and I hope and pray that he will have great wisdom in the days ahead, and remember that he is the President of all of us.

I feel a kind of odd happiness as I write. Maybe it is just relief over the end of this longest of campaigns in the history of the world (or so it felt - has campaigning already started for 2010?). Maybe it is because I believe that conservatives now will have to regroup and rediscover who and what they are. I have a hope that articulate conservative voices arise from these ashes and bring a better and more accessible set of ideas to the table. Maybe I feel a sense of peace because I trust in the providence of God and look beyond the politics of the day for my hope and joy. Maybe it's all of the above.

In short, congratulations Barack Obama. My Lord tells me to pray for all who lead and exercise authority over us, and I will pray for you. Every leader needs more wisdom, energy, and creativity and grace than seem available to any one person, and I pray that God answers your own prayer, the one you left in the wall in Jerusalem:

"Lord _ Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will,"


Angie said...

Thanks for your post - very helpful and quite gracious. Thanks!


Scot said...

I agree with Angie, your post is quite gracious, but I have serious doubts that "His victory has helped heal and cleanse one of the great stains upon our national history and character". I hope and pray that I am proven wrong.

Joel said...


I am referring of course to the stain of slavery and the subsequent abuse of black Americans by white Americans post reconstruction. Nothing can ever remove that blight upon our national character and story, but perhaps Obama's election can be a stepping stone, no matter how much I disagree with him is so many other respects.

Sam said...

This is a very thoughtful post, Joel. I agree. I woke up worried about our nation's future given the liberal landslide, but I know this, too, is in God's hands, and good things always come out of dark times.

I'm particularly thankful that it seems to have been a clean election, with no doubt as to its outcome. Now we can all move on.

And I especially am glad that so many African-Americans (but hardly all, we should point out) are genuinely joyous over President-elect Obama's victory. Especially the older folks, who tasted the horror of violent racism firsthand.

Steadman Harrison said...

Well said. I told my boys this morning that we need to praying for our new president and lifting up Obama as he faces these many challenges that are ahead. You have summed up many of my thoughts and hopes here.