We can be excused our happiness for so many reasons, not the least being that just in his first week President Obama is proving to be just the leader we've expected. Jubilation's easy to come by when your team wins, and it fills out like a full sail when it carries the promise of a positive course for the world. Knowing that we will all sacrifice together for a better day makes it sweeter, though tougher: we're all going to carry a burden for the greater good, and at the finish, we'll have the right to be proud of ourselves, our fellow citizens, and our country. So the winning has passed and the work has started, and in ourselves we find the patriotism that has eluded our most cynical. So this is more than just a repudiation of the Bush era. It's much more than that.
At the base, we've repudiated more than just an administration. That sense of relief you feel, the tonnage lifted from your backs, is more than just a farewell to the most secretive, dangerous, subversive, underhanded eight years this country has ever seen. It is, and it's more than, the repudiation of a generation.
We've repudiated supply-side economics, that bastard grandchild of trickle-down. We've repudiated the religion of tax cuts and laissez-faire. With it went the fantasy that the free market cures all economic ills. Ayn Rand and her acolytes have sailed into irrelevance, the idea that somehow businesses will work for the betterment of humankind because the search for profits will lead us there discredited. Greed is an exhausted notion. Selfishness has gone with it.
Goodbye, the ideas that a government cannot care about and for its citizens. Take along with you the baggage of a generation's misdeeds: Enron, Bechtel, Halliburton, Iran-Contra, Abscam, Abramoff, "national malaise," stagflation, wiretapping, misbegotten wars, disrespect for our servicemen from the top, and a return to the law of the economic jungle. Put in your baggage Star Wars, MAD, neocolonialism, bellicosity, and rules-for-thee-but-not-for-me. Those notions are old now.
So it is with jingoism, the bitter distillation of patriotism, anger, and fear. So it is with anti-intellectualism and the rule of the brute. So it is with fear of dissent. So it is with the darkness of paranoia. So it is with the weary resignation that lets such things live.
Not everything is fixed, and not all evil is dead. It won't ever be. If we've learned anything since the last great hope, it's that human nature will always keep utopia bobbing just ahead of our fingertips. Forces that survive on the power of savage fear will always find food. But in this day, and in this time, though they don't realize it, they have become irrelevant. They're howling into the wind now, afraid that power will slip away from them. They don't know it already has.
But it's never far from their reach. Smoldering resentment is seductive. It nurses its anger on patient milk. That this country has passed through its greatest crisis of character since the war that nearly tore us apart is a reason to celebrate, and we should. We've looked national despair in the eye and found the will to stare it down. Now we can stand fast, work together, and hold on to the confidence we've found within ourselves.
We've let go, at long last, of a generation. We are the ones we've been waiting for.