2008-12-12 / Columnists

The Progressive

Festive Activity
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

At this time of year when our national cold weather holiday season begins most of us are concerned with preparing celebration with family and friends.

Fine china is set, gourmet menus planned, shopping for gifts is a priority, and decorations are placed in our homes, both often outside, and in our living space. Some of us love the season and many of us are similar to Scrooge- we feel it is all humbug. For me, the season brings a smile on my face and joy in my heart but I am also aware of the letdown the preparations will give me when the holidays arrive and disappointment reigns after such expectation. This year we felt it will be a meager holiday season. As we put up an evergreen tree or light a menorah we also examine our stock portfolio and we fear the future. Often, at this time of year we reflect on the past and dwell on or predict our common and individual future.

This past year our nation had a historic election. While we waged two brutal wars overseas, experienced a financial crisis of a magnitude that causes us to tremble, and worried over the ever rising costs of health care and university education, our country proved to the rest of the globe our capacity to overcome our prejudices and fears and elected an American who did not fit a preconceived notion of what we seek in an executive in chief. We forget both political parties had candidates with a diversity that is reflected in our population.

Republicans had an Italian American who was the nation's mayor as a candidate in the primaries. The GOP also had a Mormon, an evangelical minister and a divorced senator as candidates for president in the primaries. A woman governor was the vice presidential nominee for the party. A woman, a Mexican American, and Roman Catholics were candidates for president in the Democratic Party primaries. In the past, African Americans, women, Roman Catholics, Jews, and Hispanics as well as divorced men would not be considered viable as candidates.

This election proved the strength of our democracy despite its defects and need for reform.

Our elections are always part circus and part serious discussion of issues. This election was no different. All human attributes and emotions are part of any hotly fought political campaign. Fear, greed, altruism, hope, ethnic rivalry, hate, tolerance, character assassination, and patriotic fervor were part of the campaign. We should be proud the election was a peaceful one and is a credit to our prestige beyond our borders. I also feel this would be the case if Mr. McCain won. We are a nation that always in times of crisis selects pragmatism over violence and ideology.

All of us realize the dangers our nation will face after the festive winter holidays are just a memory. We will be challenged and we need to proceed in a bipartisan manner. We cannot allow the heat and anger of past political disputes to make us forget that we are all Americans. Some of us came on slave ships, some of us in steerage, and some of us crossed the Rio Grande, but we all love our family, our friends, and our flag. May we all live in peace that the infant of Christmas promised us! May we all live as a free people as the lights of the Menorah promised us! May the precepts of Kwanzaa be part of the lives of all of us!

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