It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
One thing—among many—to take away from tonight. Millions of people who did not believe, chose, again or for the first time, to believe. Blind faith is no doubt dangerous, but there is perhaps nothing more destructive than cynicism, none more lost than those who do not believe in anything, no point if there is no hope. And the images of the night were not of that stage in Chicago, but of the people watching and celebrating across the United States, many seeming to see and feel something they had not before.
Whether or not candidate Obama was worthy of that is infinitely debatable, but it is now for President Obama to justify that belief. Or, at the very least, conduct himself in a way that gives those millions reason enough to keep believing in this stuff. It is an obviously daunting and vaguely pivotal task.
That’s for tomorrow and the next four years. Tonight, the Detroit Free Press, speaking to perhaps the most depressed city in America and a population with every excuse to have long ago given up, entitled its lead editorial, “Time to believe.” The paper’s editors concluded as follows.
“Candidate Obama always stressed change. But he became more than just the anti-Bush. In these worrisome days and weeks, change became secondary to believing. And the president-elect has earned Americans’ belief in him.”