Don't get me wrong : I've been wishing for his election ever since I listened to his 2004 DNC speech and Tuesday night, I've welcomed my own tears of joy, relief, hope and respect... Heck, I even felt like hugging America altogether !
Yes, the ultimate race barrier has been blown away by a tidal wave embracing the US of A as a whole and as they are at their best, strong of an incredible diversity. At last, die hard outspoken racists will be silenced... and even better : unconscious racism may decrease significantly (without even noticing it, many unintentional aggressors will change their body languages - but their common and uncommon victims will more than probably notice... and hopefully feel a lighter weight on their chests).
Yet. If America electing the first African-American President is in itself History and a giant leap for mankind, this election cannot and shouldn't be summed up by this one formidable accomplishment.
The stakes went even higher.
And no, it's not the economy, stupid. I know that was the top issue for 62% of voters as well as I know that Obama will do a much better job than McCain in that field. But the situation would have improved after a while anyway and as far as History is concerned, even this titanic mess is a minor factor compared to the key issue of the 2008 Presidential Elections : the very survival of America as a democracy, and the world struggle against fundamentalism.
Everybody is celebrating the first African-American president, and of course everybody should, but it wasn't the aim of these elections, and certainly not the reason why the dangerous Bush-McCain-Palin squad failed (even if they want you to believe it)... only the most exquisite bonus to the main prize.
The aim was to elect a strong but sound leader who would not only prevent the nation's moral and political collapse but also durably put the country and the world back on the tracks of democracy and mutual respect.
When Barack Obama says "America is a place where all things are possible", he knows that this is not a one-side coin : if all things are possible, even the worst is possible. When Barack Obama says "the dream of our founders is alive", he doesn't forget that the great George Washington himself used to own slaves. And when Barack Obama finishes with "the power of our democracy", he's not only making his strongest focus on the massive turnout of this glorious day.
When Barack Obama uses the words "power", "democracy", "patriotism" and "liberty", they don't have the same deviant flavor as in the mouth of George W. Bush ; they claim their true meaning back, as the ultimate condemnation of the wrong path taken after 9/11...
"The true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms
or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals:
democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope".
... "because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America".
This change happens to be carried by an African-American, but what really matters is that it is a change in the good direction, not the irreversible change George W. Bush was only one Supreme Justice shy of triggering**.
* see "The Maverick is free again"
** see (I hope for the last time) "Change is coming" and Mac "will fight", but for whom and for what ?"
PS : All right. I just wrote yesterday* that Barack Obama's speech was not "a truly Historic one", and I didn't mention the unease I felt when John McCain (like Bush the following day) focused too much on the African-American dimension of That One's victory. But I did mention the special quality of those two parts of his speech.