Commentary: A time to take pride in America

This editorial appeared in The Merced Sun-Star.

Americans can justly be proud of their republic today.

Elections, especially historic ones, are fought as warlike affairs in which the aim is to crush the opposition.

Yet afterward, in the great play of democracy, we endeavor to come together as one people. It falls to the president to pull off that difficult transformation.

Barack Obama, chosen Tuesday as the 44th president of the United States, has the persona and character to accomplish that feat.

He exudes calm and confidence, as well as a spirit of conciliation. He will take office as the personification of the breadth of the American experience, the embodiment of both its heritage and its potential.

Obama is the first African American to be elected president. His victory is the historic culmination of the nation's long journey from the arrival of the first slaves in 1619 to the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in 1865, to the civil rights acts of the 1960s banning legal discrimination.

At the same time, his youth brings generational change to our politics, moving the nation beyond Vietnam and the culture wars of the past 30 years.

The way Obama ran his campaign - in all 50 states, using a model of face-to-face politics, and financing his campaign through an unprecedented array of individual donations, many of them small - lays the groundwork to move beyond the static, polarizing politics of recent years.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Merced Sun-Star.