It’s hard to fully comprehend the fact that Barack Hussein Obama is now President of the United States.
The notion of American exceptionalism has been used to rationalize everything from Manifest Destiny to our current forays into nation building, and it frequently goes hand in hand with the idea that the West in in decline. But the faces of the two million people on the mall today, standing as proxies for the 63 million who turned out to vote for Barack Obama last November, are testament to the fact that America is not doomed to decline but rather equal to the task of reinventing herself in the twenty-first century. That as a people we are capable of shaking off antiquated notions, failed ideas and ideologies, our prejudices and our obsolete certitudes as we see them to be inadequate to address the profound challenges before us.
We now have a President whose experience is informed by a multiracial, multicultural and international heritage. Never before has there been a world leader of Obama’s stature who reflects the face of an increasingly globally interdependent planet, whose very existence fundamentally challenges the narrow assumptions of class and race that have determined a narrow corridor of ideas that have limited our palate of choices. As he assumes the American Presidency, we have shown that as a nation we have retained the heritage of our radical founders, and are bold enough and brave enough to open up not only our own country but the world to the talented individuals and the leadership we need to reinvigorate ourselves.
If America is truly an exceptional nation, there is no clearer manifestation of that than the fact that we had the courage to elect Barack Obama.