By Annette John-Hall
Barack Obama has always said it was never about him. It was about us.
And in the end, it was.
Forget all of the polarization and backbiting. The voter suppression and racist dog whistles. The obsession with polls and the divisive parsing of our nation.
On Tuesday, it was our turn. And we used our single most powerful weapon. The vote.
I never thought I’d see a black president elected in my lifetime. And now the nation has not only re-elected him, but also doubled down on faith in his leadership.
For all the talk about the staggering deficit dooming our children and grandchildren, the debt of regression, of not making the country better in all ways — all of us helping to lift each other up — would damage their future even more.
A vote for President Obama meant embracing the world we’re in.
Mitt Romney’s almost all-white crowds seemed foreign for their lack of diversity, so removed from the coalition of blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, and American Indians — a mirror image of the country — who willed this country forward Tuesday.
That isn’t just hope. It’s change.
I have to admit, I wasn’t sure we’d get there.
The last four years haven’t been easy, and I’m not talking about the economy. While the election of our first black president brought out the best in us, it also stirred the worst.
Never has there been as much vile name-calling and personal disrespect directed at the commander-in-chief. Liar. Noncitizen. Retard. Socialist. Muslim (as if Americans don’t practice Islam). Food-stamp president.
Oh, and my favorite, shuck-and-jiver.
And those were just the blatant attacks.
Even one of the nation’s most honorable statesman, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, couldn’t escape the line of fire, shot down and accused of endorsing the president “because he was black.”
Ironically, Obama’s otherness most likely opened the door for Romney to nearly be elected the first Mormon president, with little fanfare.
I’m proud of that, too.
I’d be lying if I said I don’t still feel emotional about a black man — a black family — in the White House, but it’s more than that. This time around, President Obama’s election wasn’t so much about being on the right side of history. It was really about the nation’s affirming a belief in the content of his character.
Annette John-Hall is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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