With egg on my face ....
Probably the best thing most people will say about this Wednesday morning is that the election is finally over. For most of the last two years, the election, largely through media fascination with Donald Trump, has been a regular feature of both news outlets and comedy shows. Sometimes the distinction between them blurs.
On the eve of the election, President Obama passed the torch to Hillary Clinton in a speech that opened with a few well-placed jabs at Donald Trump, before launching into a fulsome argument as to why Hillary was the best person to carry on his legacy.
Contrasting Clinton’s experience with Trump’s business record, Obama said, “I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved success without leaving a trail of lawsuits and unpaid workers and people feeling like they got cheated.”
The Monday night reunion of the Obamas and the Clintons at Philadelphia’s Independence Square, which fronts the building in which the Declaration of Independence was signed, brought the attention of the nation to the passing of the torch from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton.
Thousands gathered before the steps of Independence Hall to hear from Bill Clinton, Michele Obama, Barack Obama and Hillary herself on the eve of the election to push a final get-out-the-vote effort for Tuesday.
A powerful introductory speech from Michelle Obama began with a quavering voice as she confessed, “This is an emotional moment for me for so many reasons. First we are one day away from once again making history. Tomorrow we have the chance to elect someone who is singularly qualified to be our president: our friend Hillary Clinton.”
Some of the quaver might also reflect the first lady’s recognition that this speech is one of her final opportunities to have the full attention of a significant bipartisan audience. As Michelle said, promoting Hillary Clinton was the “last and most important thing” she could do as first lady.
She did it well, thanking Americans for “giving our family the extraordinary honor of serving as your first family.” It is difficult to imagine that Obama, who has developed into a powerful and persuasive public speaker over the past eight years, will remain quietly behind the scene after leaving the White House.
“Thank you for welcoming us into your communities with open hearts, for giving us a chance, whether you agreed with our politics or not,” she said at a Clinton rally. “Every day you have inspired us with your courage and your decency and every day we have tried to make you proud and live up to the standard of citizenship that you set.”
Affirming her unqualified support for Clinton, Michelle Obama said she and the president have a responsibility to assure that “this country is turned over to a leader that we can all trust.”
“We deserve a leader who will ensure that our daughters are safe and respected,” she said. “And that our sons understand that truly strong men are compassionate and kind.”
The president made his endorsement at the Philadelphia rally Monday. “I’m betting that America will reject a politics of resentment and a politics of blame. I’m betting that tomorrow, you will reject fear, and you will choose hope. I’m betting that the wisdom, decency and generosity of the American people will once again win the day—and that’s a bet I’ve never, ever lost.”
The stakes could not be higher. Hanging in the balance is whether the country continues on the progressive course laid out by the Obama administration. More comprehensive health care coverage for thousands of Americans who previously had little or no insurance is in the docket. So is equal pay for equal work for women, and a national minimum wage of $15 an hour by 2020.
This morning, either Hillary Clinton or Donald J. Trump will be on the way to the White House. That choice will be made Tuesday (I am writing my column on Monday) when the final voters go to the polls, the absentee ballots are in and the counting begins.
With the polls tending in Hillary’s favor and heavy early voting seeming to tend Democratic, things are looking optimistic for Hillary. Tuesday morning looks like the dawning of a new day in America.
And if Trump should improbably win Tuesday, this column will go down as my equivalent of the famous “Dewey beats Truman” headline.