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 . . .

[photo credit]


7 thoughts on “Zigzag

  1. yes see, that is my worst nightmare these days….the last bush running for office.

    because that woman whom I refuse to name… could never be elected. I refuse to believe that we as a country could reverse our values that far…

    but a Bush…well, for some reason, they are heros to some people.

    so, lets go back to sleep for a while, ok, and pretend…that for now at lease, hope is dawning……….

  2. I have great hopes for the next four years, as I’m sure you do too. The kids were old enough to follow this election and we let them stay up for part of the returns, promising to let them know the outcome ASAP.

    I loved the fact that we had record voting turnout for this election – too often only a handful of voters actually go and have their say. It’s my hope that we continue to see this kind of response in future elections.

  3. I don’t know about the next elections. I do know that I never thought voting for the winning guy would make me feel such relief.

  4. Like you, I was moved by McCain’s speech. Honestly? I had considered voting for him, but when he chose Palin, it sealed the deal for me. In the end, I think I would have ended up on Obama’s side anyway. I think we need an intelligent, global leader for these tough times. For the last eight years, we’ve had a vacuous, often offensive, smirking leader who thought he led by some divine right. Yes, we needed to zig.

    I’m so relieved that most of America felt the same way I did.

    Peace – D

  5. jane – interesting comment. You have a unique perspective . . .

    we-be – Good to hear from you! I’ve missed you . . . I too hope people finally realize that their vote does count for something . . .

    gnome – relief is a good thing right now . . .

    River – It has been amazing to see the global reaction to this election. I have a friend who attends school in Europe and she tends to get the cold shoulder when people realize she’s from the U. S. A. I’d like to see our global image spit-shined a bit . . .

  6. It was an amazing day. Watching from abroad, I was moved to tears when I heard Olbermann (unfortunately) announce that Barack Obama would be the next president of the United States of America. One of the first times in a long, long time that I missed the States.

  7. I kept thinking just this on election night. It will go back the other way one day. Hopefully the zag will not include a swing back to the prejudice but I’m afraid it will. Everything in this administration will be weighed or blamed on race. What a shame.

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