Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Holograms and History (Daily Northwestern 11/7/08)

It's over. Just as I started writing this column, North Carolina was called for Obama. A little tardy to the party, but it's the thought that counts. Now I can do something I've wanted to do for a while: Call him President-elect Barack Obama.

But it's over, and that's a hard thing to say. I now have nothing to do. It's not just that my column will officially have no point next week, because it certainly won't. I'll have to start writing about how silly the squirrels are on campus or what's wrong with the Keg. I literally have nothing to do now. I can't go home, turn my TV on, turn my brain off and absorb tired political talking points. 

Who will make me sad now that Keith Olbermann is happy? Who will make me feel un-American now that Joe the Plumber has perished from the earth? Who will make me laugh now that Sarah Palin has gone home? In her own special way, that woman could brighten anyone's day. Now I can see the end of her political career from my house, and it's a tad tragic. Tina Fey and Nailin' Palin won't suffice.

So it's over. What happens now? All we can do is try to guess what kind of dog the first family will get. My money's on a pit bull.

It's hard to make sense of what just happened. For the first time in years, Americans asked for change and didn't have to follow it with "maybe on your way out?"

But I think we've forgotten something: We don't have to wait for change anymore. We never did. It's here. We've changed already. There's no way an African-American could ascend to the highest office in the land if change hadn't already begun weeks, months and years ago.

No, Obama hasn't brought us change. Obama has simply shown us how we've changed. I saw a great picture a couple of months ago: an old white man in Dixieland holding a sign with the Confederate flag painted on it. And you know what that sign said? "Rednecks for Obama." 

And I saw another historical moment on CNN Tuesday night: not just a black president, but Anderson Cooper speaking to a freakin' hologram version of If you had told me 10 years ago we'd have a black president today, maybe I'd buy it. But if you had told me we'd have hologram versions of mediocre rappers talking about presidential politics, I'd have told you to shut up and get back in your DeLorean. 

Now, not everything will be sunshine and roses. What will John Stewart and Colbert do now? What will cynics, such as myself, say about a nation and a world riding a wave of optimism? What will MSNBC and FOX News do? Become the new versions of the old each other? And what will happen to the pent-up political passion that has inspired our generation? I fear the day when Urban Outfitters will sell Obama T-shirts as vintage clothing, relics of another day.

Yes, my friends, it's over. Line up on the field and shake the other team's hands. It was a good game. There's only one more thing to say: What's next?

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