Obama makes history

Shocked by the reelection of a president who had led us into a disastrous war under false pretenses, we wrote four years ago about “feeling blue in a land of red” and said the Democrats had to figure out a way to win votes in the Republican states. We were as unsure as everyone else as to how that was possible. Never could we have imagined that a black, first-term senator would inspire a nation and a planet in the next election, carrying states like Virginia, Indiana, Florida and perhaps North Carolina.

On this historic day, we think of our children in Lower Manhattan who have only heard disparaging words about the president from their parents, and of the middle-aged and elderly who never thought a black could be elected to be president this soon. On Jan. 20, we will have a president to be proud of.

Our nation’s problems at home and abroad were not solved Tuesday night, but we took a giant step forward — proving to the world that the promise and opportunity of American freedom and democracy are not forgotten ideals, but our bedrock principles that are our greatest strength.

Barack Obama will come to the White House facing enormous challenges, but he knows what needs to be done, and almost as important, he knows how to speak with people he disagrees with and how to bring people together. We were pleased to hear John McCain’s healing words Tuesday. It was his finest moment of the campaign and we hope the McCain who used to work well with Democrats reappears.

Obama has a clear mandate and a more Democratic Senate, which means he will only need to persuade a few reasonable Republican senators to pass most of his programs. He has seen the dangers firsthand of running roughshod over Congress. There should be many issues where consensus is within reach — economic stimulus tops the list. There will be other times — we suspect insuring all Americans’ health care may be one — where the steel Obama has shown running a masterful campaign will be needed.

While righting the ship in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has made it clear he will return our focus to where it should have been — protecting the homeland better and weakening al Qaeda, which devastated this community. He will make us safer by working to repair our relationship with the rest of the world, and talking frankly with our friends as well as enemies.

It is just so enormously refreshing to know we will soon be led once again by someone who is remarkably intelligent, who has a curiosity and understanding about the world, and who thinks creatively. That he has also inspired so many young people to get involved in the process, that he will hopefully begin to move us beyond the blue vs. red trap, gives us so much excitement.

Ironically, the day before Americans flooded the polls in record numbers, Mayor Mike Bloomberg signed a bill extending term limits — overturning two voter referenda. Whereas Obama has inspired millions of Americans to put aside their cynicism about politics, Bloomberg, doing an end run around voters, did exactly the opposite.

On Tuesday, Barack Obama made history.