Via Corsini, Rome, Nov. 6—
WE STOPPED OFF at the edicula on the Piazza Sta. Maria in Trastevere this morning, on our way for a day's walk to Sta. Cecilia and then the Aventine and so on, to buy the historic newspapers. Reppublica had a dozen pages on the election, with articles by Madeline Albright and others, and the complete acceptance speech (in Italian, of course).
Le Monde also had complete coverage, including detailed results state by state, and a twelve-page supplement into the bargain. And the International Herald Tribune, of course, was not to be outdone.
Huge photos of the serious or smiling president-elect Obama were on every front page. Surprised in spite of myself I exclaimed to Lindsey: Look at them! Obama everywhere!
A woman on my other side turned and asked pointedly, in American English, Where are you from? California, I said, Northern California.
I'm from New Hampshire, she said; We couldn't be farther apart.
But now we're very close, I said; side by side, in fact.
She wasn't buying it. I'm afraid, she said, Very afraid. I don't know what is going to happen.
Are you afraid for his life, I asked.
I'm afraid of everything, she said. And I believe she was. Her face was nearly rigid with fear; fear sat in her eyes. I didn't know what to say, I'm sorry to report, and didn't think to try to reassure her.
Her fear does not seem shared by the newspapers. They all report that the world is changed; a new optimism (or at the least realism) is in place; America has reassumed her position of enlightened leader into the new millenium.
Most curiously, Obama's election, it's widely reported here, has ended racism and finally ended America's Civil War. This is proclaimed in headlines, even adjacent to maps showing most of the Confederacy went red for McClain. It's a little odd to be here at this moment; we wonder what the mood is really in the States, the mood among those voters, nearly half of them, who voted against Obama, the ones who voted against equal rights to marriage.
And I continue to wonder if democracy can work in a culture that replaces education with propaganda, paid advertisments, and trivialized "information" elicited and published by a press whose chief role seems to be entertainment.
We elected the right president, I think, and we seem to be giving him the support he'll need in Congress. Western Europe is clearly behind him one hundred percent. Perhaps this has been the turning point; perhaps now America will address social problems internationally and at home as just that: problems, to be recognized, analyzed, and dealt with intelligently and practically, not from an ideological program. Let's hope so.