In which I’m no prophet

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Five years ago, a Utah senator suggested amending the U.S. Constitution so that instead of requiring presidents to have been born in America, foreign-born naturalized citizens could be eligible too. The idea never got much traction, but it did create a brief controversy in Utah, where it brought the foreigner-haters out of the woodworks.

I wrote a column about it. I made the point that simply letting foreign-born naturalized citizens be eligible for the presidency doesn’t mean one would ever actually get elected. I wrote:

“Do you honestly think anyone with an Arabic name or ethnic look about him could ever be elected president in this country? Please.”

And now, only two election cycles later, we have elected as president a black man named Barack Hussein Obama.

I’ve never been happier to be wrong!

It’s interesting to note how many other elements of that five-year-old column came into play this year. I mentioned that one of the objections some people had to foreign-born U.S. citizens running for president was that a Muslim terrorist could come to America, become a citizen, win the White House, and destroy us all! Which actually sounds like some of the crackpot ranting you heard a lot of in the earlier stages of Obama’s campaign.

I’m glad that in the end, all the nonsense didn’t matter. I think most of the people who didn’t vote for Obama made that choice based on perfectly valid reasons such as not liking his tax plan or preferring a candidate with more political experience. My general feeling is that the ignorant voters — the ones who couldn’t get past his name, or his race, or some other molehill that they made into a mountain — were relatively few.

There is reason to be upbeat even if you didn’t want an Obama presidency. Obama has unquestionably inspired more enthusiasm and optimism, particularly among young people, than any candidate in recent memory. And as any political, business, or military leader can tell you, positive morale among the rank and file can make all the difference in the world between an operation that slugs along inefficiently and one that hums with energy and vitality.

Obama has been elected by a constituency that is genuinely passionate about him — and, by extension, about America and her potential. People who were once apathetic or cynical about government have found a reason to be interested and hopeful. Increased hopefulness and positive thinking is good for the country, regardless of who inspired it.

I don’t think they will follow Obama blindly. The honeymoon will end, the daily grind will settle in, and even Obama’s supporters will find they don’t agree with him on every subject. The point is that we love our president. We’re proud of him. We like what he stands for. We like the idea of him representing America to the world. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to say that about our leader.

Just this once, I’m going to ask that there not be any thread-crapping in the comments below. If you didn’t support Obama and are grieving over his election, please keep it to yourself in this thread. Let’s let the rest of us enjoy it.

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