I know a lot of people who read this are American and I was thinking yesterday as I listened to the concession speech of John Mc Cain and the acceptance speech of Barak Obama that for the first time in a long time America had a real choice.
John Mc Cain's concession speech was gracious and inspiring, a testament to the great hero and independant politician that he is. For although he is a party man the record indicates that he has always voted with his conscience and within his beliefs. His speech paid homage to a great competitor, it acknowledged the historic nature of this election and the result and it urged McCain supporters to work together with him for the future of a country in serious trouble on a number of fronts. It must have been a difficult and turmultuous time for this man but he came away from that podium every inch the gentleman and hero he is.
And then there is Obama - his speech could have been an inflammatory vindication for two centuries of mistreatment of African Americans. What it was was a measured, well crafted heart felt "call to arms" to work together for the good of a country in turmoil. His understated acknowledgement of his belief in a country where "all men and women are created equal" could have marginalised the latino, asian or any one of a hundred other minority groups - but his carefully chosen (and yes the speech writers really need applause here too) words were humble and thankful.
Obama and McCain may be at opposite ends of the political spectrum but I suspect like some politicians of old they actually do have the country's best interest at heart unlike so so many candidates and presidents of recent times.
Obama is being hailed as the man who got the voters to turn out in record numbers but I think the calibre of both candidates did that, on the one hand the white elder statesman and war hero (harking back perhaps to a Roosevelt?), on the other the young inexperienced African American (the Kennedy of the 21st century ?).
Either way I hope and pray that both these men - and they will both have a role to play in the government of America for the next four years - never lose sight of the common sense, love of their country and her democratic ideals , and gentlemanly, gracious behaviour of yesterday.
God Bless America - certainly - but may god reserve just a few of those blessings for both these wonderful men and their families and the taks ahead of them.