Yes — the President-elect of the United States Of America is cool.
This is going to take some serious getting-used-to.
I just created a section, over to the left there, called Politics 2008, where all my political posts are now collected. I had no idea there were so many of them — I got a little carried away and didn't realize how much I was obsessing on the race. Some of the writing is too shrill, some is downright hysterical — all of it is interesting to read in retrospect, or will be one day when the hangover from this long campaigning season eases a bit. I can't really apologize for writing so much about the election, however, since it would have been impossible for me not to write about it.
One of the subjects that interests me most is the survival, in disguise, of 19th Century forms into the 20th and now the 21st Centuries. In the 19th Century, politics was a major feature of American popular entertainment — people read newspaper reports of politics the way we read gossip magazines, people went to see political speeches and debates the way we go to the movies (or used to go to the movies.) This year, gossip and movies seemed a tepid brew indeed compared to the drama and spectacle of the race for the Presidency. In this age of television and the Internet, hundreds of thousands of people felt it was important to show up in person at Barack Obama's rallies — to share a real space with him. An image on a screen wasn't enough.
The Victorian world is always with us — we only dreamed that we left it behind — and sometimes it doesn't even wear a disguise. When Obama is sworn in on the steps of the Capitol this January, you can be sure he'll quote Abraham Lincoln. In a very real sense, Lincoln will be standing beside him. As William Faulkner once wrote, in some lines Obama has already quoted, “The past is never dead. It's not even past.”
Sure, Obama made masterful use of the Internet in his campaign, but one of the things he used it for was to get us to listen again to the voices of our ancestors.