Wednesday, November 05, 2008

From the M.J. Political Desk

I'm feeling pretty good about the election. No mistake, the problems that Obama will face come January are formidable, and all of us here in the U.S. should be prepared to hold the president elect's feet to the fire about bringing Bush's various wars to swift and humane conclusions, effectively re-regulating the economy, restoring eroded civil liberties, bringing balance, transparency and accountability back to the federal government, enforcing environmental regulations, awarding political and judicial appointments based on the merits of the candidates, ending government use of torture and secret offshore prisons, and fixing a thousand other things that have gone to hell in the past eight years. The really broad scale, long term problems that the world is staring down--environmental degradation and the depletion of natural resources--might be beyond the ability of any leader to address, no matter how capable and well-intentioned they are.

Still, and cheesy as it sounds, I felt something while watching the results last night that I haven't felt convincingly in a while: hope for the future of the country, hope that progress is possible, hope that something, besides video games and moe character designs, might have been getting better amidst 30 years of creeping neoconservative cultural rot. At one point after Obama's victory was certain, a reporter talked to some grizzled old civil rights activists, and the hardened veterans of a decades long and still ongoing struggle had to choke back tears of joy: the country had achieved something that they had never imagined could happen in their lifetimes. It may just be for a few hours or a few days, but I can't maintain a drop of cynicism in the face of a scene like that.

I'll continue with Japan trip reports next week; election aside, this week is impossibly busy.

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