Ross Mackenzie

What does not destroy me makes me stronger. -- Nietzsche.

And so it is to be President Barack Obama.

His seminal victory marks a major moment in the nation's history. It is fundamentally his accomplishment -- for minorities and multi-ethnics, for the meek and humble, for the nation. He merits the highest commendation and praise. Only in the continuing experiment that is America, the great good land, could his victory in such proportion have been even imagined, let alone achieved.

A stream of election-related observations . . .

Many factors contributed to Obama's win: Iraq, President Bush's unpopularity (though at a favorable level well above the pitiful 9 percent of the Democratic Congress), an economy circling the drain; Republican ethical, intellectual, and political failures that left Republicans hard-pressed to present as better than Democrats. Republicans proved unable to offer a credible, coherent strategic message. The campaign of John McCain found itself insufficient and tactically overmatched.

Yet probably no other Republican could have done better -- neither Giuliani nor Romney nor Thompson nor Huckabee. In part, Republican internal division brought the party to this juncture. But given that Hillary Clinton with her high negatives likely could not have prevailed against any of the above, including John McCain, there had to have been another decisive factor.

Partly it was the economic implosion. The record shows that McCain was ahead in mid-September -- helped by the home-run, the political gold, named Sarah Palin. The financial-credit tsunami was the principal non-election event of the ensuing month, and it dramatically hurt McCain.

But clearly the most decisive factor was Barack Obama -- a political phenomenon rarely seen, an orator of the first order, a disciplined man at the head of a disciplined campaign. There was about him -- and is -- a sense of destiny. No matter how much McCain tried to make Obama the issue, a majority of the voters found him likable, appealing, and not a grievance candidate a la Jesse Jackson, but a transitional, crossover candidate.

How else explain his decisive victory in the face of a USA Today poll published just before the election, wherein 48 percent of the electorate found him unqualified to be president? How else explain his strong performance practically across the board -- from new voters and the young and the old, to African-Americans and Hispanics and whites, to women and self-styled moderates/independents? Obama may well have carried the electorate across the threshold to a new post-racial paradigm.


Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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