Last night, when MSNBC made the call for Obama, there was a cheer, and then a stunned silence among the quartet on my sofa. My immediate thought was, oddly enough, of the musical 1776. One of the finest moments in William Daniel’s masterful performance as John Adams comes right at the end, when the motion on Independence passes. “It’s done!” he says forcefully, then, pausing a moment, he seems to deflate, and with somber realization, he repeats softly, “It’s done.”

It’s worth remembering that while we celebrate the date of the Declaration as Independence Day, it was on October 19th, 1781, when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, that the wheels set in motion by that historic document were realized. And thus, it’s important to realize that the election of Barack Obama is not the end of anything. It is the beginning of something, and there is much blood, sweat, and toil ahead of us.

There are many things that I admire about Obama that have little to do with his political leanings. I admire that he is a thoughtful man, a deliberate man, a man who is considerate of the opinions of others. I admire that he is intellectually curious, and I admire that he is willing to admit publicly that he doesn’t have all the answers, and that he will make mistakes. I expect him to surround himself with quality advisers, and I expect him to listen to them.

I know there are people who read this who are disappointed in the results. Some of them have been gracious, and some of them have been bitter and angry. I want to say to them that they are still my friends, and shall always be, no matter how we might disagree on issues of the day. I’m a firm believer in consensus, and I think that the conservative viewpoint does have merit and should be factored into the decisions that are made by the government.

To those who are ecstatic over the results, who worked hard to make this happen by donating time, money, and words to the campaign, well done. But please remember that most of the people who worked just as hard for McCain are not bad people. They love our country as much as we do, even if they disagree with us on what is best for it. If we stop and take the time to actually talk to one another rather than past one another, we may yet find that there is more that binds us together than keeps us apart.

Because I don’t just want a different government in Washington. I want a better government. Last night, we took the first small step towards what I believe will become a better government. How quickly, and how much better, will depend on how we all come together, not as liberals and conservatives, or as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans.