A Very New President

It is a historical moment, almost beyond comprehension, that Barack Obama is President-elect and that he and his family will soon be living in the White House… A black man and his family presiding and residing in the “White” house.
What is in the minds and hearts of black Americans now, especially older black Americans, is beyond my white person’s comprehension. However, from my point of view?having been born in the forties and grown up in the fifties, etc., this story, if some writer had dreamed it up then, could have been published only in a fantasy and science fiction magazine; maybe Ray Bradbury would have written it.

I remember a great scene in Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles? Mars had been found to be safe and relatively easy to get to for residents of Earth, and, after some small amount of time went by, all the black people in the American South just packed up and left… Quietly and calmly, they shut down their houses, took all their belongings and just departed; leaving amazed whites lined up alongside the roads, just staring at them in disbelief and an odd kind of bereavement.
If, during the time Bradbury was writing, if you were an American black and you wanted to find someplace to go to escape racist misery, you had to go to Mars to find it?Detroit and New York and Chicago weren’t really far enough…

Anyway, here we are now… What comes next, who can tell? Mr. Obama, as seems only fitting for a minority (minority for now?in about three or four decades, whites will be the minority), finally gets the top job in the country?but he has to shoulder the heaviest Presidential burden in almost a hundred years?maybe the worst ever to be delivered to a newly elected President.
There?s an old joke I heard once? in the form of a newspaper headline: ?World To End, Jews and Blacks to Suffer Most!?.

Well, this is no joke. The chaos and misery (and potential disasters) that Mr. Obama is inheriting are right up there with what Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt had to confront.
Its not a precise historical comparison?no two moments in history could be. We’ve never been in a Depression and two wars at the same time before. But its just as about as bad as it can be?and it will take not just the President-elect’s great skills and endurance to pull us out of it, but massive amounts of luck, international change on a massive scale, and maybe God’s grace as well?

Does Mr. Obama have the intellectual gifts and perseverance of Lincoln and Roosevelt? It certaintly seems like he does.
Now he will need as much help as a President has ever gotten from his country. Can he count on that? Well, we’ll see.
You can only hope that those who are enraged, or, at the very least disaffiliated, by the the reality of this man as President, will finally see that it is in their own vital interest to cooperate with whatever he has to do to save this country.

And, as a coda, a much smaller consideration… Now what happens to all the news and talk and political shows? They must, inevitably (and naturally), face a huge dip in audience. Its a funny thing?being on the radio and having a political talk show?I can feel everybody out there, wearied beyond measure, taking a vacation?maybe a long vacation.
Listenership will fall off and the number of calls as well?
And shows like Jon Stewart’s? What will he do without George Bush and his cast of villains and fools? It might very well be like Court TV after the O.J. Simpson trial?that channel practically dissapeared.

There is a kind of empty feeling that accompanies the joy and hope that has come with this great event. A great anti-climax?like the dropping off people often feel after sex, or after a huge undertaking has been accomplished. But there is, along with the worry and doubt and fear, also a great feeling of relief that the criminals, murderers and theives who have almost ruined this country during the last 8 years are soon to be gone.
If there?s any justice, many of them would be indicted and convicted for crimes against body and spirit of The United States.
But retribution does not seem to be in Mr. Obama’s nature and I guess its right we try to follow suit…
A moment of joy?sober joy, but amazed joy, that such a thing should happen in this country.

– Mike Feder (New York City – November 7, 2008)

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