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Posted on Wednesday 5 November 2008 at 9:15 pm

First election thoughts


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It has been almost 24 hours since I was certain of the results of the election. I had been so hopeful for many weeks, but refused to be truly optimistic for fear of bitter disappointment. When they called Pennsylvania for him, I was sure that Senator Obama would be President-elect Obama by the end of the night. But I still refused to let myself truly believe until I heard the victory speech. Senator McCain's concession speech didn't even convince me. I'm not entirely sure I'm convinced now. For that reason, I'm waiting a few days to let this all settle before I give my full thoughts on what exactly all this means and what I'm realistically expecting, which is a lot less than many. For now I just want to say one thing. I am (basically) a professional historian. As a historian, I often have to argue with people who claim that history should only be about presidents and generals and people in power because those are the only people who truly make history. My usual argument is that the people with power are often the ones who visibly change the course of history but that everyone who ever lived is a part of history and shaped the past and therefore the present, even if their actions don't noticeably change the world. I start with this argument because it is easier than trying to explain the myriad ways in which the "little" people often do change the course of history.

Yesterday, millions of nameless "little" people changed history by electing Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States of America.

Comments:

kate_scarlet
kate_scarlet at 3:34 am on 06 November 2008 (UTC) (Link)
I had a hard time believing it too - I've been burned too many times to recognize the good news when it comes. Even after the math was there, I waited until he'd started his post-270 landslide before I did my victory dance!

P.S. I hope we can be friends! I'm a bit of a historian too, and we both have Tribe Pride! :)
Wild Magelet
wildmagelet at 3:46 am on 06 November 2008 (UTC) (Link)
My usual argument is that the people with power are often the ones who visibly change the course of history but that everyone who ever lived is a part of history and shaped the past and therefore the present, even if their actions don't noticeably change the world.

Amen. I think the first lesson of every history class should be that history is made every day by and in every life and that what fills the history books is just one angle and barely skims the surface.

And thank goodness for those millions of "little" people yesterday!
What's Taters, Precious?
mrstater at 4:44 am on 06 November 2008 (UTC) (Link)
Aw, I love that, Rachael. Makes me feel really glad I cast my vote here in Texas despite not fully supporting all Obama's platforms. Even though Texas fell short, did you see how much blue was on our map? South Texas -- blue! Austin, San Antonio, DFW -- blue! Slowly, people's minds are beginning to change and open, and I think that's vitally important, even more so than policies, and I'm really glad to have been a part of that.

You're emotions are rubbing off on me; I'm getting all misty about this, too!
Dorothy
labellerose at 4:38 am on 07 November 2008 (UTC) (Link)

Thought you might appreciate this quote...

Great Ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves.
And perhaps if we listen we may hear
Amid the turmoil of empires and nations
The faint fluttering of wings
The gentle stirrings of life and hope
Some say this hope lies in a nation
Others in an individual
I say that it lies
in the daily sufferings and triumphs that each of us
builds for us all.


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