With apologies to readers for some repetition, I restate in the indicative mood much of what I wrote last week in the conditional, and I add some additional comments:
In the abstract, given the long and terrible history of slavery and institutionalized racism in much of the country, it is a wonderful and glorious thing that the citizens of the United States have just elected our first black (or half-black) president. Barack Obama’s election is a striking symbol of yet further progress towards respecting the American ideal that “all Men are created equal.” Insofar as our fellow citizens who have endured, and continue to endure, discrimination and other indignities because of the color of their skin take special joy in that symbolic achievement, I extend them my genuine congratulations and find some consolation in their joy.
Only consolation, though, for, alas, we do not live in the abstract, and symbols are no substitute for substance. I won’t repeat at this time my concerns that Barack Obama, for all his many admirable gifts, will be very damaging to the country as president. I hope and pray that I am very wrong. In any event, there will be plenty of time later to express vigorous and principled disagreement with the policies of an Obama administration.
For now, I call attention to Michael Gerson’s column celebrating the peaceful transfer of legitimacy that a presidential election brings about in our country, and in “a patriotic respect for the processes of government and a determination to honor the president for the sake of the office he holds,” I join Gerson’s “one message for Barack Obama, who will be our president, my president: Hail to the chief.”