It's official. History has been made. But it's far from over.
Now starts Obama's challenge in walking the line between the hopes of those who elected him and the expectations of those who funded him (and yes, they are two different groups of people).
One can already hear it in his speech: calling out the greed of Wall Street while also saying the recession has come through our collective unwillingness to sacrifice. How he spins that into tangible legislation is anyone's guess. But his campaign speeches, where he invoked the legacy of the civil rights movement, the workers' movement, the abolitionists, and the often hidden bottom-up history of this country, won't be forgotten. They have stuck in people's minds, and if the new president doesn't deliver, then the pandora's box will be opened.
Jeff Chang posted his "Notes on Day Zero" today, where he sums up the hopes of the Obama campaign, as well as the hopes for ordinary people to win what they deserve:
"Onto this body of Barack Obama we have projected all possibility, and the faith that we are moving toward answers. And yet Obama also materializes the same question that has haunted people of color on American soil—the lands of native peoples—since long before W.E.B. Dubois articulated it over a century ago: how does it feel to still be a problem? Does our desire for hope and change and progress lead us further from the actual thought and practice of justice, or closer?
And yet if we really care about these questions, we will never have the luxury of doing nothing.
This moment will not mark the end of our struggles over questions of nation and race, nor will it mark the end of our Duboisian double consciousness. It's the beginning of something—I'm not sure what—but it's something that we, the new majority, must write."
Maybe we're already writing it. Not to sound like a broken record, but we've already seen a vibrant movement willing to fight for gay rights, large protests against Israel's slaughter in Gaza, and victories for working people in this country that, though small, are the kind we haven't seen in a long time.
Historic moment? Yes. End of history? Far from it.