In Milk, the new Harvey Milk movie, the hero (as in real life) is well aware that he's a target and faces regular death threats. He also makes the point and it's kind of a theme in the film that the movement he represents is far bigger than he is. It's about the movement, not any one person, he keeps telling his supporters.
And that's what we have to remember now that the Nov. 4 election is over.
Thanks to the weirdness of old-fashioned print publishing schedules, I'm writing this well before election day, and by the time you read it, Obama will have won the election. It's a giddy feeling, actually winning a campaign on this level after so many bitter disappointments. And that's fine we should celebrate while we can.
But we should also remember that the real work starts now and that's the work of making sure that President Obama is accountable to the people who put him in office.
No other candidate in my adult life has had the kind of grassroots support that put Obama over the top. From the early days of the primaries, he has raised money on the Internet from tens of thousands of small donors. People who have never worked in a political campaign came out to volunteer for him. He has offered hope and that's a dangerous commodity. Because now he has to deliver.
We can't expect too much too fast but we can demand that he gives the progressive side of the Democratic Party its due. We don't want the war to drag on. We don't want the rich to keep gaining market share. We don't want big business to derail environmental programs. We actually want change, real change and we have to keep pushing for it.
Electing a president is necessary, not sufficient. It's still about the movement.
(And if I'm all wrong, and John McCain is the next president, we all better start singing "O Canada")