Wednesday, November 05, 2008


With apologies to Oprah, Three things I know for sure:
  • I am a white man about to turn 54.
  • I was born in 1954, the year that the Supreme Court ruled school segregation illegal in Brown v. Board of Education—probably the most important civil rights decision ever.
  • Until this year, it never occurred to me that a Black or biracial person would ever be elected President of the United States in my lifetime…or in the lifetime of my twin 28-year-old daughters.

Like the majority of voters, I happen to have cast my ballot for President-elect Obama. But no matter who we voted for, we fathers and daughters are living through a stunningly historical moment in our national history.

During the course of this campaign, my heart warmed to hear how often Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama (and Ms. Palin, Mr. Biden, Ms. Clinton and other candidates) expressed love and concern for their daughters during the campaign. As an advocate for Dads & Daughters (to borrow a phrase), my faith in people’s respect for father-daughter relationships was vindicated.

Last night, I shed tears listening to Sen. McCain’s honest, healing and patriotic speech; listening to the President-Elect’s call for mutual effort and sacrifice…and listening to my own daughters describe their amazement at the election’s outcome. All I could think to tell them, through a choked voice, was this: “I am so grateful that you lived to see and experience something like this. And that Mom and I lived to see and experience it, too.”

This morning, I can articulate more clearly why I am so grateful. No matter what one’s political persuasion, November 4, 2008 was a thrilling and humbling reminder of the unfolding miracle of the idea of the United States. Despite our troubles and problems (and, too often, our cynicism), we are all stewards of a remarkable, ongoing experiment of a Republic.

And as a member of the fraternity of fathers, I feel this morning like my life is some reflection of that. At (almost) 54, I’m not an old man. But in the course of that relatively short lifetime, the United States has gone from a place where the children of middle-aged fathers (Black and White) were murdered because Blacks wanted to ride a bus, attend a college—or cast a vote. In my lifetime.

And in the lifetime of us fathers and our daughters, the son of Black and White parents became our President-Elect last night. Whatever happens next, please make time today to ponder with your daughter how we all made history this week.