[Re-posted from late last night]
Romney's was, I thought, one of the most graceful and gracious concession speeches I can recall. I thought for a split-second: what if this Romney had run? And then I realized that his party would never have nominated that Romney and his ambition had trumped his integrity long ago anyway. But there was still a poignancy to that moment – the gap between what a human being can be (or still is, as a father or husband or friend) and what politics and wealth and power can do to someone.
The president's oration was almost a summation of his core belief: that against the odds, human beings can actually better ourselves, morally, ethically, materially, and we can do so more powerfully together than alone, and that nowhere exemplifies that endeavor more than America. It was Lincolnian in its cadences, and in some ways, was the final, impassioned, heart-felt rebuke to all those, including his opponent, who tried to portray him as somehow un-American. How deeply that must have cut. How emphatically did he rebut the charge.
What he reminded me of was how deeply American he actually is – how this country's experiment truly is in diversity as well as democracy. And his diversity is not some cringe-worthy 1990s variety. It is about being both white and black, both mid-Western and Hawaiian, both proudly American and yet also attuned to the opinion of mankind.
As for the next four years, there is time enough for that. But I stand by these words. And one felt something tectonic shift tonight. America crossed the Rubicon of every citizen's access to healthcare, and re-elected a black president in a truly tough economic climate. The shift toward gay equality is now irreversible. The end of prohibition of marijuana is in sight. Women, in particular, moved this nation forward – pragmatically, provisionally, sensibly. They did so alongside the young whose dedication to voting was actually greater this time than in 2008, the Latino voters who have made the current GOP irrelevant, and African-Americans, who turned up in vast numbers, as in 2008, to put a period at the end of an important sentence.
That sentence will never now be unwritten. By anyone.