So what just happened in America?
A record number of people stood in long lines, pushed some buttons or punched some paper, and watched late into the evening as a new and exciting page in our nation was turned.
Slammed would perhaps be a better term.
I celebrated the moment with my kids, overjoyed that they are now old enough to understand and appreciate something this historic. We listened as John McCain gave one of the best concession speeches ever voiced, and probably the only thing during this election season penned by his own hand. McCain is a true hero, and his resurrection is nothing short of phenomenal. I respect him now more than ever.
But I voted for Barack Obama.
Was our nation, particularly those on the conservative side of the street, “overcome by a tsunami,” as out-going Connecticut Republican Congressman Christopher Shays declared in his concession speech? Did it all come down to money? Who made more? Who spent more? Was it all about networking? Getting the word out and hammering it home until everybody heard? Was it all a response to some flowery promises or saccharine slogans, all built around such a simple yet powerful word – Change?
In his 1989 essay titled “The Zigzag of Politics,” Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick wrote . . .
The electorate I see as being in the following situation: Goals and programs have been pursued for some time by the party in power, and the electorate comes to think that’s far enough, perhaps even too far. It’s now time to right the balance, to include other goals that have been, recently at least, neglected or given too low a priority, and it’s time to cut back on some of the newly instituted programs, to reform or curtain them . . . The electorate wants the zigzag. Sensible folk, they realize that no political position will adequately include all of the values and goals one wants pursued in the political realm, so these will have to take turns. The electorate as a whole behaves in this sensible fashion, even if significant numbers of people stay committed to their previous goals and favorite programs come what may. For there may be a significant swing bloc of voters that will shift to new goals and make the difference – that the least ideologically committed voters may determine an election is abhorrent to the view that wishes politics to institute one particular set of principles, yet desirable otherwise – and in any case, a new generation of voters will appear on the scene ready to seek a different balance, eager to try something new.
Face it: Barack Obama will not be president forever. And at some point in the future, we as a nation may find ourselves in a situation where a swing back to the right – a zig, if you will – makes sense. But for now, we are zagging. And hopeful for a brighter tomorrow . . .