We the People

By: Dennis Bates

Regardless of whether your candidates won in last night’s election or not, I think we all need to take hope from what happened. Our process in this little experiment we call Democracy still works, and it works well. I know that some of you aren’t happy and some are euphoric. I’m somewhere in the middle ideologically, but I am so energized by the process that I have to write about it.


There were some that said our system is flawed and dying. Our system is flawed; every system is, but from the record turnouts of voters and the bright shiny faces that I saw working on both campaigns, our system is far from dead. In fact, I think it may be stronger than ever.


Look briefly at what happened. Two candidates and their running mates waged a strong, spirited campaign. It wasn’t always pretty and nice, and it frequently focused on personal attacks which it should not have. But when the dust settled last night somewhere shortly before midnight and a clear winner emerged, a Senator from Arizona called his opponent, a Senator from Illinois, and  congratulated him for winning. Then that same Arizona Senator went on national television and gave one of the most gracious, courageous and conciliatory speeches heard during this entire campaign pledging his support to the man who defeated him. When some of his supporters, who were obviously disappointed, booed, he told them to be quiet, and for the most part, they were.


On the other stage in Chicago where more than a half million victorious supporters waited for their candidate, the crowd hushed to listen to the concession speech. Some even applauded at the incredible patriotism and statesmanship shown by the man who lost. It was one of Senator McCain’s finest moments, and one we should all be proud of, no matter how we voted. At that moment, when he had to be feeling exhausted and let down, he showed everyone around the world why our system is far from dead.


I personally applaud you, sir. You made the United States of America proud.


On the other stage in Chicago, the victor was equally gracious. He accepted the offer of help from his opponent with dignity and style. He laid out his dream for the future of this country with a mixture of rhetoric, evangelistic zeal and patriotism that enthralled his supporters and should have done much to placate the concerns of his detractors.


In a way, the two candidates could not have been more different in style and in message, even though I personally think they both love this country equally, albeit from different vantage points. But in the end, this election wasn’t about either of them; it was about a system.


It’s about a system of government and a people who could accomplish one of the most dramatic shifts in political direction that we’ve seen in this country in a long time, and accomplish it peacefully. No wars, no military take overs, no bloodshed. It’s about a sitting President, who has never gotten the respect he should have in his position, calling up the opposition party winner and inviting him to the White House to make the transition as smooth as possible.


That was sheer class and worthy of respect. Thank you, President Bush.


And it was about a system that could elect a junior Senator from Illinois to the highest position in the land and validate that this is truly a land of opportunity for anyone who wants to take advantage of what it has to offer.


Thank you for believing in that system President-elect Obama.


But in the end, and now at the beginning, this election wasn’t about which candidate or which party won; it wasn’t really about the election of the first Afro American President. This election was about We the People and our imperfect but wonderful system…We the People, black, brown, white, male, female, Democrat or Republican…We the People were the real winners…and the whole world watched in awe as our system worked again.


God bless our system and God bless America!


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