It's a great relief that the election--the most expensive in history at something like $4 billion in campaign funding--is at last over.
There are several lessons to be learned. Among them:
1. Americans are not stupid or lazy or apathetic. The majority are progressive and think about the future. Millions vote, even if the lines are long. And they are not greatly influenced by all the money-driven ads and negative campaigning.
2. The campaign season is obscenely long and costly and should be changed. The big bucks of PACs organized by Karl Rove and others are wasted. Why not use this money to help where it's really needed?
3. The right-wing take-over of the Republican Party must give way to reality. We are not a nation of 1950s white Americans who think like Mitt Romney. The majority of the country is diverse, ever-changing, ever-creative.
4. The Catholic bishops should stop their politicizing. The faithful do not listen to them on topics relating to women and marriage. They voted heavily for Obama; they know that gay people are here to stay--traditional marriage is not threatened by gay marriages--and that the church should focus on social justice issues. The alliance between right-wing politics and religion has done great harm and has now become an embarrassment. Let us move from moral battles to social reality, finding ways to heal divisions and develop new jobs.
5. The superb Obama campaign would be nothing without the unusual man who deservedly got re-elected--not merely because he should finish what he boldly began four years ago but because he has been a steady, intelligent, widely respected world leader. I admire a man who listens to the voice of history, who reads widely and writes much of his own material, and who thinks before he speaks.
As one of my GOP friends said on election day, "May the best man win." He did. It is hard for many white men of my generation to admit that an African-American is not only gifted but worthy of re-election.
Obama was a classy candidate who now needs the prayers and support of the country. He leads a deeply divided America, polarized by the very political system he has mastered.