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Nov 5, 2008

I sat tonight and watched the coverage of the national election, and for a good portion of it I didn't really react. The recent past has shown that polls are unreliable, and coupled with my inherent view of most people as small-minded and cruel, I didn't have much faith that things would go the way I had hoped and voted for.

Still, I watched and waited and as the night went on things started to look good, then really good. Before long it was pretty clear that barring a huge upset there would be a moment of significant American history happening.

At around 8:00 PM Pacific Time, the announcement came: Barack Obama would be elected President of the United States of America.

Being someone who most days sees little to hope for in the world, I must tell you this was a welcome change in my view of my country. This election will be a moment remembered alongside the moon landing, the Kennedy assassination, the Berlin Wall and other significant slices of time where something truly momentous has happened.

For me personally, this is one of the great moments of my life where I see the future I hope for starting to emerge into possibility. I have long seen the terrible faces of hatred, greed, and apathy. Many days those faces were right in front of me. There are the great monsters of humanity, men like Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin, that we all know and rightly despise. It is the smaller monsters, the ones living next door, that we should be twice as afraid of. Those who would kill others in the name of life. Those who would look to isolate others who do not share their concept of sexuality. Those who look upon whatever faith is not theirs and see it as less. Those who view skin color as a reason to fear and hate. These are the true threats to us as a race. The insane butchers tend to be easier to spot, while the quiet rot of the basic evil of man creeps ever closer.

Tonight marks a small but important step in the fight against that disease. As a nation, we have now signaled that there is no place in this country that any of us cannot go. Does this election mean the end of racism? Unfortunately, no. As long as ignorance and fear rule over reason and intelligence, racism can never die. But this does mark a day where we have said as a nation that the idea that a person is defined by appearance is past, that it is more important to value a person for what they are than what they appear to be.

There's no way to predict the future, and indeed no guarantee that Obama will fulfill the promise of his election. But even if he fails as a President, there can be no denying what he has succeeded in proving for us as a nation.