We’ve come a long way

Published 9:22 pm Thursday, November 6, 2008

Supporters and opponents alike can acknowledge and appreciate the historical significance of Barack Obama’s election as America’s 44th president.

In little more than a half-century, America matured from the shameless disenfranchisement of black voters to the election of a black man as its commander-in-chief.

That’s progress, no matter how you slice it, and it sends an important message to young African-Americans: Race no longer is an insurmountable obstacle to success in this country.

Though it’s true that Obama inspired a record turnout of black voters nationwide on Tuesday, it must be remembered that African-Americans account for less than 14 percent of the country’s population and an even smaller portion of registered voters. Obama won the presidency by appealing to voters of all races, including millions upon millions of white people who were inspired by the Democrat’s message of change.

Republican nominee John McCain, a war hero and statesman, was most gracious in defeat, acknowledging the historical magnitude of his opponent’s victory.

President Bush did the same a few hours later and urged Americans to unite behind their new leader.

With a long, divisive election season behind us, Republicans and Democrats can find common ground by acknowledging this important milestone in American race relations and relegating race-based politics to the ash heap of history.