The morning after the election, I got up early to walk the dog. In the alley I met a neighbor who congratulated me on the results and said something I’d hear a lot over the next few days: “I wish my grandmother were alive to see this.”
Many African Americans of my generation and older never expected to live to see one of our own elected president. Now that it has happened, we regret that elders long since passed away aren’t alive to share our joy and pride.
I want to thank all the good people in the ward who worked so hard for Barack’s election. I send a special thanks to all who joined us on our five trips to Indiana to assist his supporters there. I am also grateful to those who worked in the office making calls, stuffing envelopes, and generally helping to keep the election operations humming. Finally, thanks to all who worked on election day here at home.
President Obama has a daunting job ahead of him. Facing two wars and a financial crisis, he has his work cut out for him.
In an odd way, we are challenged as well. There will be endless stories about Hyde Park/Kenwood and how his time in our community has influenced and shaped him. I ask for your patience and good humor at the inevitability of reporters coming from elsewhere to capture the spirit and vitality of our neighborhood. After all, communities as diverse as ours are pretty rare in this country. We should be thankful for the rich experience this provides us.
The very special character of our neighborhood also challenges us in other ways. I’m reminded of the comments of a friend in 1972 who couldn’t believe McGovern hadn’t won the election because everyone she knew voted for him.
As president of the United States, Barack is not free to take the same positions he did as a progressive state senator and then a United States senator from the only state in the country that has elected two different African Americans to the Senate in 20 years (our own Carol Moseley Braun being the other).
In addition to the substantive issues he faces, he must also think about the election in 2012 and steer a course that is both good for the country and that does not preclude his reelection.
In short, he will undoubtedly follow a course that is pragmatic and centrist and therefore disappointing to some. In that regard he will be well served by fellow Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, who is as smart and talented as they come.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who has supported the p resident-elect over the last 12 years. Our community has been the core of his political support from his first election in 1996, through his unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2000, and including his serendipitous election to the Senate in 2004. We can all be proud of his success and our good work on his behalf.
4th Ward Alderman