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Chris Graham | Barack

It’s Jan. 20, 2009. We’d be celebrating today no matter who was taking over mainly because of the fact that the other guy would be on his way out the door. Maybe I’m not being entirely original in thinking and saying that, but it’s true.
That out of the way …

Barack Obama is the first African-American president. Again, not a new observation, but given our nation’s history, it cannot be overlooked what it means for us to have elected a black man president. Especially considering the tone of the discourse from the ’08 election. If you can call people referring to Obama obliquely as a Muslim and even questioning his legitimacy as an American citizen engaging in anything akin to discourse. The word fearmongering comes to mind as a more apt description. And yes, I am still hearing from people who are upset about an African-American getting the keys to the White House. Including a relative no longer on my Christmas card list who rather liberally used the n word to explain to me his feelings on the subject.

Me, I’ll never forget Election Night in Waynesboro, just a few minutes before 11 p.m., when the networks started calling the election in Virginia for Obama. In particular I won’t forget looking back from the big-screen TV at our election headquarters to see the volunteers who helped make it possible celebrating together. Black and white and Hispanic, women and men, young and middle aged and experienced all the same. That right there was the America that will become more and more familiar to us as this 21st century unfolds.

Another reason to celebrate – my new friend Brett Hayes. I say new friend conscious of how we used to be at each other’s throats over an ancient slight involving the Chamber of Commerce merger from a hundred years ago. That was long before Brett e-mailed me to say that he was supporting Obama, and to tell me why. Obama made sense to moderate conservatives like Brett because he was going to get the economy back on track and because his foreign-policy ideas were going to get America back on track.

If Barack Obama can make Brett Hayes and Chris Graham see the world through the same lenses, there’s hope for us yet.


– Column by Chris Graham