Friday, January 4, 2008

A New Day for America

Say what you will about the insignificance of Iowa, but I am fired up about the results of last night's caucus. To be perfectly frank, I feared that I would never see an election in my lifetime when a black candidate would win the delegates of a state that is 97% white. The fact that the voters of Iowa were able to see past the color of a candidate's skin and instead judge him based upon the content of his character is a milestone for America.

Now The Optimist is not such an optimist as to conjecture too naively about the degree to which this result will bridge the racial divide that still fragments our nation, but at the same time the significance of Iowa's vote should not be minimized. This past summer I visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, which is housed in a building converted from the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated. The Museum is a gut-wrenching reminder of the atrocities that were once commonplace not just in the South, but everywhere in the United States. What is most appalling is that the Museum is not merely a compendium of the past, but a living history of the hatred and injustice that still festers beneath our nation's proud exterior.

But just as it is essential for Americans to never ignore or anesthetize ourselves to these evils, it is essential that we recognize our triumphs when they occur, for if we do not, we risk diminishing the inspirational lessons we can take from them. We have indeed been a nation of "Two Americas" as John Edwards said, but yesterday we took a small step toward becoming one.

What was once unimaginable has happened.

No comments: