Obama Wins, Pigs Fly

This is a day for reflection and wallowing in history, not mundane political prognostication.

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That, in part, was what Obama was alluding to last night when he asserted that, "beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.'

It is not a racial appeal, but it is rooted in the knowledge that blacks, whether they knew it or not, have been leading whites, who certainly never realized they were being led, in the direction of a more perfect union since long before the nation was founded. White women (including those who helped to propel Clinton's own precedent-setting campaign), other racial minorities, gays—every group that threw off discrimination and second-class citizenship has followed the pathway to freedom blazed by our struggle.

And what a remarkable vessel Obama is for the dreams we've poured into him. There is no need to dwell on his gifts as an orator, who sometimes seems to be channeling both JFK and MLK. His shrewdness is equally impressive. He, with his strategist David Axelrod and campaign manager David Plouffe, assembled a campaign apparatus powerful enough to defeat the former presumptive standard bearer, Clinton, one of the most tenacious and talented candidates in history. Through mastery of the Internet, he has raised spectacular amounts of money largely from small contributors. He out-organized Clinton in caucus states and built up enough of a lead in delegates to outlast her victories in several states at the close of the primary season. He taps into a hunger for change that has aroused the political fervor of the young.

Running an effective campaign is not a complete test of whether a candidate would be a good president, but it reveals a great deal about the aspirants' leadership and organizational abilities, and the way they respond to pressure and unpredictable events.

So far, Obama has passed every test with extraordinary aplomb. The challenge that remains is, on a way, more for the rest of us than it is for him. Is America ready to entrust its future to a president who is not only black but can dance like one? Or do we have to wait for the day when pigs actually take to the sky and fish can actually whistle?

Jack White is a regular contributor to The Root.