After working hard and being out of town last work, I am quietly sitting here tonight watching history unfold before me. At 9:00pm this evening, Barack Obama securing the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party is monumental; not only because he is African-American, but because of the way he did it. Being a young Senator from Illinois, Obama dared to take on the political establishment (i.e., Clintons) and wound up winning. It was an extremely close race, and Hillary Clinton came very close to being the first female nominee from a major party. In fact, three of the top four candidates from the Democratic Party were minorities.
I do not necessarily agree with Democratic values and beliefs, but I can appreciate - and even admire - an organization that embraces inclusion. It gives me hope and is something I can show my daughters - the future is open to them. We have often talked during this long campaign about all the candidates, and they are fascinated with Obama. I have tried to be impartial, answering their questions honestly and with a minimum of spin or bias. It is interesting to see what they pick up from the news: Obama wants change, Clinton can't be trusted, and McCain is too old. When we start talking about specific issues, little matters - they just return to the impressions that have reinforced through the media. I wonder if this is how quite a few voters have formed their opinions as well.
The power and symbolism of this hour cannot be overstated. Obama has campaigned on a message of change, and his nomination signifies just such an attitude that people are embracing, Securing the Democratic bid is not only a beacon of hope to a subset of Americans that have struggled to achieve and maintain equality, it also signals a trans-formative and unifying moment for an entire nation seeking any ray of hope.
With that said, the next phase begins...and it is going to be a doozy. The elephant in the room is not the GOP - it is what the Obama campaign will now do with Clinton. Will he offer her the VP slot (something she stated for the first time today she would be open to), or is she angling for a retirement of campaign debt, a cabinet post or Supreme Court nomination? This decision will be Obama's next major test and will go a long way toward shoring up the negative feelings that have welled up during this political season.
Looking at the text for the speeches for McCain and Obama this evening, it is clear that the central tenant for both will be change - it just depends on what your definition of change is, and what kind of you are seeking for the next four years. If this comes down to an election of style over substance, and there is no reason to believe that it won't be (especially since seeing how Obama defeated Clinton), you have to think that Obama has more than a chance to be our next President. This will be discussed quite a bit over the next few months, but for now, we are down to the final two (although Nader and Burr would differ with that assessment). Next stop, VEEP-stakes.