Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Cautious Celebration, But a Celebration

"Mark this down in your book," I said to my anxious wife in August. "52-46. That'll be the count and Obama is the 52." She remained unconvinced until first thing this morning when she looked at the cover of the Roanoke Times, then went online to the New York Times "for a second opinion." She was crying.

Virginia, my adopted state since 1971, reflected America: 52-47, giving people like me who have been outside the state's mainstream of political thought something to cheer. Even in years when our side has won some small victory nationally, there was rarely anything to celebrate in this Cradle of the Confederacy.

Today, we have Obama, Mark Warner in a landslide victory over one of the worst of the worst, Jim Gilmore. And there's Tom Pierello in a stunning, thoroughly unlikely, one percent race with the entrenched hardline, hardheaded, unreconstructed 1950s politician Virgil Goode in so-red-it's-burgundy 5th District. Periello may not prevail in the final numbers which are dependent on absentee ballots from some of Good's strongholds, but put it in your pocket: Virgil got the scare of his political life from a man he wrote off in his bigoted way as "a New York lawyer" and if he doesn't change, he's gone.

Pass that lesson on to people like conservative Bob Goodlatte of the 6th District (mine) and on up and down the spine of the Blue Ridge where the right wing is fluttering aimlessly and broken right now.

There is a distinct temptation to take utter delight in this most complete victory of my voting years (when Lyndon Johnson won a landslide, I was not on his side because of Vietnam). Until we see how the noble Obama and the ignoble U.S. Congress navigate our monumental challenges, I suspect we'd probably better hang on to our skepticism.

The presidency has changed, Congress still has about 95 percent of the people in place who helped put us where we are. The federal courts, which can be involved in a lot of mischief, retain a 60 percent Bushes/Reagan majority. That's significant because of what those old white boys can do to any progress.

So, let's celebrate, but let's hang on to the handle of reality after today--when we're allowed to throw a triumphant fist into the air.

No comments:

Post a Comment