Regardless of where your politics sits or how your candidate came out of last night's election, we all have to take a moment to ponder the historic significance of electing a person with a new skin tone and a completely unique name. Who, just a couple of years ago, would have predicted President-Elect Barack Obama?
Create WV, along with Vision Shared, is a non-partisan group by charter. We try to celebrate progress within all political stripes as it relates to building a better West Virginia through the development of creative communities that can grow new economies. These comments are meant purely in that vein.
Some Obama fans in West Virginia are lamenting the fact that our state went red again, at least at the top of the ticket, and voted for John McCain 55% - 45%. However, stepping back and looking at these results without any emotional attachment to the politics, you are left with this - 45% of the citizens of the whitest state in the union voted for a black man for president. That is historic.
Yes, some of the folks who voted against him, including Democratic voters, did so because of race. Past surveys have shown about 1/5 of our residents (and those of many other states) still use race as a primary decision criteria.
But 45% of voters in a lily-white, conservative-leaning state voted for an African-American. That is a higher percentage than some states with very large African-American populations, such as Alabama (39%), Arkansas (39%) and Mississippi (43%). It's a higher percentage than our Appalachian neighbor Kentucky (41%).
Let's agree that no one party or leader has all the answers. Let's agree that it will take all of us working together to affect positive change. Here's hoping that all citizens can appreciate the significance of this historic moment and unite to work for a better United States and a better West Virginia. Personally, I feel like we're all ready to move forward.