"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer." - Barack Obama, Victory Speech, November 4, 2008
Yesterday was Martin Luther King's birthday, which is America's only national holiday to honor an American citizen. The day before, which was Sunday, the incoming Obama administration staged an Inauguration Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial around the theme "We Are One," which was also the theme his presidential campaign. As several of the speakers -- including the president-elect -- noted, the Lincoln Memorial was the site of Martin Luther King's historic civil rights march and his famous dream for the American future. The president-elect reiterated that dream -- that Americans would judge each other by the content of their character and not their racial or ethnic identity. Today America welcomes Barack Obama as the first black president in its 232-year history.
How should conservatives think about these events?
First we have to recognize and then understand that whatever happens in the Obama presidency, this Inauguration Day is a watershed moment in the history of America and a remarkable event in the history of nations, and thus a cause for all of us who love this country, conservative and liberal, Democrat and Republican, to celebrate.
Second, in order to do this as conservative – as conservatives who have been through the culture wars -- we need to get past the mixed feelings we will inevitably have as the nation marks its progress in moving away from the racial divisions and divisiveness of the past. These feelings come not from resistance to the change, but from the knowledge that this celebration should have taken place decades ago and that its delay was not least because our opponents saw political advantage in playing the race card against us and making us its slandered targets.