A huge amount of the coverage I've been seeing about Obama's election has been focusing on the historic nature of America electing its first black president. And truly, that is a historic occasion. However, I worry that in the history of the moment, we're losing sight of the meaning of the moment.
The campaign we just went through was not fundamentally a choice between whether America wanted a black man or a white man to lead the country. Debates did not consist of Obama saying, "I'm black", McCain saying, "I'm white", and Tom Brokaw asking a follow-up question. Rather, this election was about which view of government should have dominance over the next four years. It was a question of whether America wanted to stick with the conservative mode of the last eight years or to try for a more progressive approach. That the progressive approach won is the real meaning of this election.
Years from now, regardless of what happens in Obama's presidency, the fact that America chose to elect a black man president will be a historic point. However, looking to the future obscures the meaning of right now. The meaning of right now is that America wants to move left as a nation. The question for now is will it work?