President-Elect Obama

I really like the sound of that. Forty-eight hours after the (decisive) election results were called (and North Carolina just put Obama at 364 electoral votes), I am still basking in relief and rekindled pride in my country.

Starting with Al Gore’s popular vote victory in 2000 in an election plagued by voting irregularities, when his presidential bid was upset by a partisan Supreme Court selection (not election) of George W. Bush, I became disillusioned by the social and political climate in my country. My pride in my country diminished further when Bush and his neocon cronies led us into an ill-advised quagmire in Iraq that squandered a trillion dollars, thousands of lives and seriously harmed our international reputation. And when George W. Bush decisively won re-election in 2004, I was forced to revisit every assumption I had about the understanding of reality I had relative to my fellow citizens. How could The Worst President Ever ™ have been re-elected?

Happily, with this historic election, we have elected a leader who has redrawn the electoral map and inspired millions with hope, something that has been in very short supply in this country over the last eight years. As I drove to the airport on Wednesday morning listening to the recap of the election results, my eyes welled with tears of relief and pride that my country made the historic choice to elect Barack Hussein Obama as our next president.

Obama ran a masterful, positive and inclusive campaign that demonstrated his intellect, his ability as an executive and his ability to inspire a broad spectrum of voters in this country as well as citizens across the world. John McCain, a great American that I previously held in high esteem, succumbed to dirty politics in a campaign filled with innuendo and outright lies, and made a cynical and irresponsible choice of running mate in Sarah Palin, a shockingly unqualified candidate who cannot speak coherently in unscripted situations, denies the existence of climate change and possibly evolution, and thinks Africa is country rather than a continent. As happy as I am about the outcome of this election, the fact that Sarah Palin will likely remain a figure on the national stage serves a stark and depressing reminder to me that there remains an insidious cultural undercurrent of anti-intellectualism and theocratic yearning in our county.

In watching McCain’s concession speech and Obama’s acceptance speech, one thing really struck me — the crowd in Arizona was filled with a bunch of angry old white people, while the Chicago crowd was a colorful sea of faces that actually represents the population of this country. While I happen to be a White Guy closing in on 40, I identify far more strongly with an inspiring and eloquent high-achieving well-educated guy of mixed ancestry as a representative of the best ideals of our nation.

Obama has inherited a country in disarray – a shattered economy, two ongoing wars and a dwindling supply of global goodwill towards our country. It may be that no leader is up to the massive challenges that face our country, but I am optimistic about Obama’s chances. The immensely important symbolic choice our country made in choosing Obama to lead us at this time of crisis has made me feel more confident about our country’s future than I’ve felt in a very long time. We finally have a leader I can believe in.

(Several of my friends and colleagues have written some excellent posts about their thoughts on this election, which are worth a read: check out posts by Ian Rogers, Seth Levine, Brad Feld and Fred Wilson).