Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Why some who feared Obama’s election are calm today

When I watched McCain’s concession speech, I wondered briefly who he finally voted for. I know he spent much of his honor and reputation in his attempt to win, but in the end he seemed unusually accepting of defeat.

It’s almost as though he was, at the very end, relieved that his own fear-and-slime strategy mostly failed, and proud that America had started a new chapter in our history.

If so, he’s not alone. Other true-red Republicans are also finding that their fears are fading …

Congratulations Democrats! - Campaign Stops Blog -

Douglas MacKinnon was a press secretary to former Senator Bob Dole. (Full biography.)

Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama. As a conservative who has been fearful of an Obama victory for the last several months, I’m more than a little surprised at how calm I am with the dreaded result and how stress-free it is to offer genuine felicitations for the historic win.

Part of my tranquil demeanor comes because of the historic significance of the outcome. Our nation just elected an African-American as our next president of the United States. No matter party or ideology, that color-blind advancement in our electoral process has to make all of us proud.

Another reason for my serenity comes by way of my background. I grew up in abject poverty and was homeless a number of times as a child. By the time I was 17 years old, I had moved 34 times with each move coming because of a forced and often ugly eviction…

… Because of that somewhat unique experience, for the last 20 years or so, I’ve been pleading with my party in print and on the air to reach out to the black and minority communities. If ever there was an unassailable wake-up call, Barack Obama just delivered it. If the G.O.P. hopes to survive, it has to go after and fight for the minority vote.

While the president-elect and others in his party may disagree with me, my young experiences also taught me there are few people more “conservative,” religious, heroic, or law-abiding than a single black mother. An inspirational mindset that would not only do my party a world of good, but has always seemed to me to be a natural fit.

While it may anger some of my fellow conservatives, I want President-elect Barack Obama to succeed. More than that, for the good of our nation and for those I care about, I need him to succeed. No matter the politician or party, rhetoric is easy but results are hard and often fleeting. Rhetoric will not trump terrorism. The nation now needs him to deliver.

As one who has worked on presidential campaigns and then in the White House, I know governing is a far cry from the partisanship of a campaign. Will Mr. Obama jerk the nation to the left to appease the fringe of his party as many on my side predict? I don’t think so. Everyday reality and what seems like a genuine desire to reach across the aisle, may temper any such move. And if he morphs into everything the right fears, then so what. The year 2012 will give the G.O.P. another chance to convince the nation that it is the viable alternative.

For the moment, let’s all step back, take a deep breath and realize that we just elected an African-American man president of the United States. Wow. That is a testament to the greatness of our nation.

Proposition 18 may have won in California because the non-euros new voters who came for McCain are also socially conservative. They could vote be voters for a more welcoming GOP. It’s not a party I’d care for, but this is America. There has to be a place for the “primevals” and the fundamentalists. One way for the GOP to “reform” would be to dump the racism but embrace the homophobia and thus become a contender for the minority vote (but not the gay and gay family vote!).

I suppose that’s progress of a sort.

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