When the Arlington Memorial Bridge was completed in 1932, the bridge instantly became one of Washington, D.C.’s great symbols as it connected the Lincoln Memorial with Robert E. Lee’s former home, Arlington House, which now overlooks Arlington National Cemetery. Many saw the bridge as a reunion of North and South.
Last month, a spokeswoman for Senator McCain’s campaign quipped that Democrats were leaving the District of Columbia in huge numbers for Northern Virginia and that was why Senator Obama was leading in the northern part of the commonwealth.
The spokeswoman went on to claim that in “real Virginia”, people were more receptive to Senator McCain’s message. She then promised that McCain would carry the state.
The comment and the attitude behind it outraged me and still do.
At a time when we are fighting two wars, when our economy is a wreck, when our schools are struggling to educate our young people, when millions are out of work and millions more lack health insurance, I saw the message from the spokeswoman as one of division. Indeed, the whole sad McCain campaign simply spoke of division, fear and negative attacks on Sen. Obama and the Democrats. The Republicans spent little time telling us what they would do if we elected them.
Well Election Day came and we have elected a new president, Barack Obama. And guess what? Virginians across the state chose Obama, making him the first Democrat to carry the commonwealth since 1964. He did so easily, by over 200,000 votes.
Apparently a LOT of DC Democrats moved here before the election was held. And they moved to all parts of the state, because Sen. Obama flipped quite a few counties and cities from Bush in 04. These include: Prince William, Loudoun, Caroline, Essex, King & Queen, Westmoreland, Henrico, Buckingham, Harrisonburg, Winchester and Staunton. The Virginian-Pilot editorialized that Obama redrew Virginia’s political map — probably something that Virginia’s Republicans and Democrats would agree on.
But back to the bridge connecting the house of Lee and the temple of Lincoln. I can’t help but wonder what Lincoln and Lee would think of Obama’s election as president. Hopefully they would agree that part of Dr. King’s dream articulated in the shadow of Lincoln’s temple was achieved — that the people of Virginia and indeed of the U.S. judged Obama on the content of his character.
The president-elect has his work cut out for himself. But he’s demonstrated his ability to pull people together of disparate views. Perhaps he is the new bridge connecting D.C. and Virginia, Real and Fake Virginia, Red States and Blue States.
Or maybe it’s the voters of Virginia that have given Obama the bridge to Washington and the White House.
I don’t know. But I do know we need to move forward and come together a country.
I think with our help, Barack Obama can lead us there.