Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Welcome to the meritocracy (by Suzie)

         Echidne, forgive me for posting now instead of Friday, but I couldn't wait to share the good news of the meritocracy.
         In McCain's concession speech, he implied that electing an African-American as president proves that anyone can succeed in this country if they work hard enough. If they don't succeed, it has nothing to do with obstacles, but with their own wounds. We should expect this theme to continue.
        I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too. But we both recognize that though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.
         A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to visit -- to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now -- (cheers, applause) -- let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.
          Democrats are co-opted because of the narrative adopted about Obama. For example: I just came back from Ecuador, and I talked to people there who found him inspiring because they thought he had risen from great poverty. I related this to the friend who picked me up at the airport, and she agreed that this was true. Saying that isn't true does not take away from the fact that he has achieved something historic.
          In his victory speech, Obama described his campaign as coming from the grass roots, minimizing the incredible organization and marketing efforts, and the reliance on super delegates for the nomination. Now that he's elected, I wish we could stop mythologizing him.
         I have friends who adopted the talking point that Obama has a great ability to unite, forgetting the divide of the primary. I don't think he could have won if the Clintons had not campaigned their hearts out, rallying Hillary supporters like me. I wish he had added her name to the many people he thanked in his speech.
        Bonnie Erbe also wonders what Obama may do to repay his debt to her.