This is truly an historic occasion – the election of our first African-American President (our first non-white President) and the rejection of the policies and politics of the past eight years. It is a time to celebrate – but only for a while.

I first heard Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Afterwards, I told a friend “remember this guy – he’s going to be President in 2012.” OK, so I was off by four years. But I remember thinking “here’s a politician who gets it:” someone who understands that what unites us is more important than what divides us, someone who understands that we’re all in this together, someone who understands that we’re safer and stronger by treating other countries as partners instead of as pawns.

I do not envy President Obama. We have one war to end in an orderly fashion, another war we need to win (and then end), the worst economy since the mid 70s, an energy crisis that is currently masked by the slow economy, and the continuing problem of climate change. Health care, immigration, and the fight for marriage equality remain problems.

Obama didn’t win because he was the black candidate, or the Democratic candidate, or the liberal candidate. He won because he was the change candidate. Expectations are huge and resources are limited. And all those folks who said such nasty things during the campaign aren’t going to crawl back under their rocks.

There’s a lot of work to do, but at least we’re finally working in the right direction. And that’s reason to celebrate.

"Then I guess you didn't come here to learn something. That's a shame."

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