Thursday, November 6, 2008

Getting to Work

Well, I'm up studying for my Econ test, but not surprisingly, I still can't get my mind off of Tuesday night.

Millions of Americans rose up and, for dozens of reasons, elected to take our country in an entirely new direction. Some voted to change the status quo of our politics, some voted to elect a voice for the middle class, others still voted to end American involvement in Iraq. There are certainly many more reasons that voters went in favor of Senator Obama, but on Tuesday night, after the results were in, there was a national catharsis for many in the diverse coalition that carried him to victory. I've heard and read about a massive gathering into the thousands in Madison that took to the streets to let out their joy over the victory. In Grant Park in Chicago, CNN showed over 200,000 people wildly celebrating the triumph. Here at Tufts, I sat on top of the President's Lawn soaking it all in as I watched a mob of about a thousand people gather and rush to President Bacow's house chanting "OBAMA" and "YES WE CAN" and loudly singing the national anthem and "We Shall Overcome." All of these celebrations were certainly called for. For years, the ideals that Barack represents have been coveted by a growing minority. For years, the minority has steadily grown while seeing its ideals fall flat on the national stage to the forces of the status quo. And now, this year, that growing minority has emerged to become the "new American majority" that Barack spoke of in New Hampshire. After years of struggle, finally a victory. No wonder thousands gathered in front of the White House to celebrate last night. Most of these manifestations came from colleges. The college generation has been written off for years as too lazy or apathetic to make change collectively. But it was the young who first accepted Barack's vision of a new American majority. It was the young who first embraced the idea that they could make the change they seek. Inspired by his vision, young people vaulted Barack's candidacy first into political viability, then victory. I think that last night, young people across America realized their potential to create political change.

Barack Obama has been elected President. But now the real work must begin. We have the ability to elect a President, to create change electorally. But it is time for this political awakening of the college generation to expand beyond influencing the election of our leaders. It is time for us to begin driving policies that will alter the world our children and grandchildren live in. The events of now will shape the electoral map when one of us is a young Senator or Governor running for President as the voice of our generation. Now, our generation must step up and begin creating change that runs deeper than electing a new President. We need to develop a viable plan to secure our energy security. We need to fight to revitalize our education system as it is the key to cultivating future generations. As we call for America to be a land of tolerance and justice for all, as many point to our unyielding quest for equality as evidenced by the election of an African American President, our generation needs to lead the call to reject a definition of civil rights that stops at equal rights for all races and recognize that all Americans, regardless of creed, race, or sexuality are afforded the same unalienable rights, for that will be the great civil rights fight that our generation is remembered for.

Yesterday, this generation saw the power that it holds. During this campaign, we wielded that power, putting our candidate in the White House. But we have much more work to do. Now is the time for us to start to realize that in ten years or 5 years or 2 years or tomorrow, the world is going to be ours to run. We must commit ourselves to continuing to fulfill the vision that we imagined when we embraced Barack Obama. This generation has seen the power that political involvement can bring. We must not relinquish it. This must not be the only night we dance in the streets.

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