what a great election night!

About 90 minutes ago, all major news networks called the U.S. presidential election, affirming that Sen. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.

Well, I did not vote for President-Elect Barack Obama. I simply disagree with his position on many issues, and I question whether he’ll be able to do many of the things he promised in the campaign. But he’s now my president, he commands my respect, and I look forward to 4 great years of coming together and making this country a better place for all.

I write a lot about politics, and race is not an issue that I dwell on. But I’m now going to dwell on it a bit. I’ve been watching live scenes on TV from locations around the country, including the big celebration in Chicago’s Grant Park. I find it inspiring to see the great majority of Obama supporters, white and black, with tears in their eyes. I’m not a black man. There is no way for me to know what this election means to a black man. My initial feeling is that it doesn’t matter; it shouldn’t matter. My core belief is that the way rid this country of racism is to stop talking about it, don’t consider it. Race cannot and should not be an issue.

But I sense something a bit bigger tonight. I sense a coming together in this country. I sense that many wounds that are still open and raw, wounds that were caused by the deep belief here in the United States that all men are not created equal, just might have started to heal tonight. I certainly hope that we did not elect Barack Obama because he is black. But we did elect him. And if the fact that he has broken a barrier, that he has realized a dream set forth by another black man 45 years ago, helps us to take a significant leap forward in coming together in this country, then I am grateful.

I just listened to my new president deliver his victory speech. If you heard it like I did, with an open mind and more importantly an open heart, then you’re hopeful for a bright future here in America. President-Elect Obama and Sen. McCain both believe that we now need to work together and make this a better place. I agree.

I’m a Republican. I always have been. I usually vote Republican, though I do break that mold when my heart tells me otherwise. But regardless of my political affiliation, I expect all Americans now to rally behind our new president. Let’s tackle the difficult issues, let’s improve our lives and the lives of those less fortunate than us, and let’s leave a better country for our children, and for their children.