As of exactly this post’s time (January 20, 2009 12:00 Eastern Time), executive power in this country was peacefully transferred from one individual (and one political party) to another. This, in itself, is a rather remarkable feat. There are too many times in history when bloody civil wars have broken out because a leader has died or left their position without there being a strictly-defined successor. Even in our own country we have had a number of close calls. The Presidential Line of Succession was only established in 1947 and before then there have been periods, following the death or ascension of the Vice President to the Presidency, when there simply was no Vice President, many times lasting for several years.
But what I really wanted to talk about today was my own following of Barack Obama. I first became aware of him way back in the Year of Your Lord 2003. I happened upon a magazine article (I forget which magazine it was) which stated–without qualification–that Barack Obama would be the first black President of the United States.
To be honest I was dubious. Not because I didn’t think he was qualified, or that because America would never vote for a black President. It was because I actually thought that someone else might beat him to it. After all he was really only a kid (42 years old) serving in his state legislature. He probably had maybe fifteen to twenty years until he might reach the office. Of course, only 5+ years later…
Next, I remember watching the returns for the 2004 election, when suddenly he popped on the screen giving an interview and I thought “hey, there’s that guy I read about”. He seemed to be moving up. Maybe he would really become the first black President.
And now he is. Not that he will have an easy time because of it. There will be many people (myself included) keeping a close eye on him, as we should do of all elected officials. But if his own history is any indication, I don’t think we have much to worry about.