Now that Obama has scored a very convincing win in the big election, I am reminded of a column written by Michael Kinsley in 1992, celebrating the victory of Bill Clinton. It’s eerie how much of it is still relevant today. Couldn’t find it online, so here are a few excerpts. Alas, just as with Clinton, no doubt Kinsley’s first sentence must give everyone pause.
No doubt it will all end in tears. But for the moment, I FEEL GREAT! It’s like the lifting of a terrible headache, or like coming up for air after swimming underwater.
Yes, the euphoria is not entirely rational. I think I speak for all Clinton supporters in saying that we realize the election of our man as president will not magically solve all the nation’s problems. Nor will it clear up our skin condition, improve our love life, pick up our dry cleaning, or stop that strange noise in the back of our car. Life goes on. Nevertheless, this victory is very, very sweet.
Meanwhile, after what seems like a century of stern sermonettes to Democrats about how we must “rethink,” must purge ourselves of excesses and extremism, must listen to the people, must abase ourselves with public mea culpas, etc. etc, it is now the Republicans’ turn for mandatory rethinking and op-ed self-flagellation. They are in worse shape than the Democrats ever were; they don’t even control the other elected branch of government (though they do, by now, have the courts). Supply-side economics and the whole range of social issues from abortion to school prayer are just two suitable subjects for orgies of conservative self-abuse. I intend to enjoy the show.
But schadenfreude (joy at others’ misery) is not the only reason to feel euphoric. Defeat of the Repulican presidential machine offer some hope that American politics can become more honest again.
This election has restored my faith in my fellow citizens. Not just because they voted my way, but because they rejected ugly appeals to various forms of chauvanism and intolerance. Watching the GOP Festival of Hate in Houston, I felt sick. I thought, Here we go again. And I confess: I thought it would work. Why not? It worked the last time. To be sure, last time the economy wasn’t so pressing. This year voters had more important things to be scared of than Republican-confected bogies.
This leads to the deepest reason I feel so euphoric at the election result: I feel connected with my country again. The single mot repellent remark of this election year was Republican National Chairman Rich Bond’s comment during the Houston convention, “We are America. Those other people are not.” The words are hateful and un-American on their face…
Nevertheless, a part of me feared it was true. For twelve years Democrats and liberals have suffered a rising crescendo of schoolyard taunts: You are outsiders, out of the mainstream, out of touch, out of touch with ordinary swaths of your own country. Each election, however fraudlently won from our point of view, made the case harder to refute.
Well, apparently it ain’t true. Those other people are the ones who are out of touch, who are outside the mainstream, whose values aren’t widely shared.
It would take only small and obvious revisions to make the whole column appropriate for today.