Last November, America witnessed more than an historical election. Regardless of who you voted for, and shame on you if you didn’t, young and old were energized like no other election I have experienced in my lifetime or am likely to witness in the future. Most of my friends and associates know that I’m personally an unabashedly conservative Republican. So much so that I once teased a U.S. Airways flight attendant I wouldn’t fly on their jet until they found me one with two right wings. The day after the election one of my past Chamber of Commerce Chairmen who will remain anonymous …oh, what the heck, let’s call him Charles, left a voice mail on my cell expressing his condolences on the grief he was sure I was experiencing. I might add he had a touch of glee expressing his sincere regret between chuckles. I suppose that’s the price you pay for being passionate about politics.
As partisan as I am, it may be a surprise for some to know I worked on the 1994 campaign for candidate Nick Theodore who was running for Governor of South Carolina. Nick beat a popular Charleston Mayor in the primary and lost in a very close election to David Beasley. Incidentally, Theodore was a Democrat. That said, it will also come as no surprise to anyone that I did not vote for Barack Obama. While we share the ultimate goals for Americans in terms of health care, education, commerce, and national defense we differ greatly in our approach. However, there was no prouder American than myself the day he was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.
The election itself was just another act in a long play with the changing American landscape as the backdrop. It began with the early settlers who braved the new world and the Native Americans who had already discovered it. Paid for by the blood of Americans who died defending it and the immigrants, indentured servants, and slaves who toiled in unimaginable conditions building it. A democracy governed by the people for the people. One nation, one republic, under God. Our history is replete with human tragedy and shortcomings. Yet it is the fire which forges our steel as a nation. One which seeks to rise above discrimination. To soar among the heavens where only eagles dare. To speak boldly of our intentions and allowing our actions to speak louder than the words.
President elect Obama will lead but he is not the answer. The American people are the answer that unlocks our human potential. When we choose to practice personal accountability, work together for the common good, and treat others as we would expect to be treated we advance as a people and a country. We hold in our hands, our hearts and our minds the destiny of a great nation. This is our moment to be a shining example for the world. We have the opportunity to live out the beauty of our grandparent’s dreams and embark on a journey unrealized in the history of our great nation. And we’ve come too far as a people to fail in that task.