Aretha Franklin does it for me every time. So if it’s ‘My country ‘tis of thee’ that she’s singing, even if it isn’t my country, I’m a patriot. And yesterday I was a British-American patriot.
The pessimist, the sceptic and the cynic in me have all struggled to keep pace with my inner Obama on that incredible journey to the White House. Mostly, they’ve managed to keep in touch, albeit at a distance. Yesterday, though, they got left behind somewhere in the deep recesses of leftist soullessness – because soul is what you would have to have been without not to be moved by this occasion. It is one of those great, shared global events, like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the release of Nelson Mandela, that I am glad to have lived to see.
It’s sometimes hard to grasp the fact that it is only four decades, barely half a lifetime, since the civil rights movement tore down the legal barriers that kept black Americans segregated and oppressed. Or that it is only two decades since Barack Obama’s predecessor in the office of president and his equivalent in the UK were the principal defenders of apartheid outside South Africa itself. If so much can change so quickly, why not believe that so much more can yet be changed?