Come Together, Right Now

"Come together" -- those are the words that stuck in my mind as John McCain offered his classy, his noble, concession speech and tears welled up in my eyes as America had done what I never thought possible in my lifetime.

A black man was elected president of the United States. And in the park where 44 years ago young people had rebelled against all authority, Barack Obama offered hope and inspiration to America before a massive crowd that undoubtedly included some of those rioters and their children or even grandchildren.

We have come a long way -- and we clearly have a long way to go.

As I look at the results down the ballot, I voted with the losing side more often than the winning for candidates and measures. So be it.

Come together -- that's the message I took away from the election. I didn't see those words in the lead stories in the nation's largest papers and I didn't hear the army of commentators pick up on them as I flipped channels Tuesday night. But even Karl Rove and the other conservatives on Fox News seemed to get the message last night that Obama represented a hopeful change if he can steer his party and the nation to the center and move us forward.

We can keep on fighting to the death about gay rights and abortion rights and taxpayer rights and victim rights and all the rights and wrongs there are in the world or we can come together and start solving problems and making our lives better where we find common ground.

Global warming, the global economic crisis, the global war on terrorism are all too big and too dangerous. If we can elect a black man president, we can start working together for the common good.

I have mixed feelings about giving community colleges more money since they actually help people who are helping themselves. But I think Los Angeles voters were fools to pass higher taxes for a failing school system and a transportation plan that doesn't solve transportation problems. So be it. The challenge is to work harder to bring about change in the schools and for  policies that actually relieve traffic congestion..

I'm happy that farm animals will be treated a little less brutally but it doesn't end our over-consumption of meat which exhausts the earth's resources and pollutes the air. I'm pleased that state legislators no longer will be able to gerrymander their districts and freeze out the majority of the people whose political views lie between the extremes of the left and the right. I'm shocked that the majority of Californians voted against gay marriage but maybe someday a gay man or woman will be elected president and that barrier, like the racial barrier, will fall.

Obama in his eloquence seemed to speak directly to me when he talked about those who have lost faith in our democracy and how he hears those who opposed him as well as those who supported him.

I hope the leaders of Los Angeles and of California listened as closely to his words, and McCain's, as I did and felt the same lifting of their spirits as I felt.

This is a troubled city in a troubled state in a troubled nation. We really do need to come together and start respecting our differences and getting down to the hard work that lies ahead.

Who Obama is and what he is really capable of is a mystery. We know so little about him. But he will not be better or worse than we are. That's what democracy is all about.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
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