It is a sea change, but not a mandate. And that's not a hit on Barack Obama, it is a challenge.
A challenge to make his rhetoric about no more blue states and red states, but simply United States, actually mean something. Unity is earned, not declared, and the simple fact is that one more 51-percent president doesn't bind a country together.
Rather, like George W. Bush, he has tremendous potential to leave it decidedly divided. Democrats are exultantly talking about a wave sweeping the country, about a new hope and an era of change, but the fact is that almost as many people opposed Barack Obama as supported him. Those people aren't cheering today, they are licking their wounds. And while the best of them will give Barack Obama a fair shake, many made up their minds months ago about him.
So President-elect Obama must avoid the temptation to do an end zone dance with his friends. He must rather immediately and convincingly reach out to people who feel like he has looked down his nose at them and their values and culture. The people he once mocked as clinging to their guns and their religion are just as American as the people who voted for him, and almost as numerous, and the country will only become united if he respects them.