Whatever your political inclinations, last night was historic. Barack Obama’s win in Montana meant that an African-American had won the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency of the United States. It’s hard to overstate the historical significance of that development. As The Washington Post’s DeNeen Brown puts it in a piece today,
Two words profound and yet contradictory. Once thought of as an oxymoron, impossible to be placed together in the same sentence, context, country—unless followed by a question mark.
Black president? This century?
Black president—words perhaps as foreign as “green president.” And yet now, a black president seems a distinct possibility with Sen. Barack Obama heading into the general election as the Democratic presidential nominee.
Obama’s victory last night—“a night,” said Dan Abrams, in his postmortem on MSNBC, “as baffling as it has been contentious”—was and is complicated by the fact that it has yet to be conceded by his opponent. Hillary Clinton’s widely expected concession didn’t come in the speech she delivered in New York yesterday evening. “This has been a long campaign,” she said instead, “and I will be making no decisions tonight.”
As Liz notes, some of today’s headlines have focused on the lingering political questions left in the wake of Clinton’s un-conceded defeat. (As Clinton herself asked in her speech last night: What does Hillary want?) And, to be sure, in the coming days and weeks, we’ll go on from last night’s victory to discuss issues of national electability. To parse polling numbers. To analyze swing-state demographics. To philosophize about race and elitism and experience and patriotism and how those ideas are embodied in the figures of John McCain and Barack Obama.
But before we move on to business-as-usual, let’s take a moment to remember that the business we’re moving on to is historically unusual. Let’s celebrate, with our press, the history we’ve just made.
Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.