I cannot wait to be part of the next four years. President Obama’s speech, so masterfully crafted and so mercifully short, called on all of us to embrace the ideals of our past as we work to transform the future of our world. “With common effort and common purpose, . . . let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future the precious light of freedom.” That is the essence of America at its best, and it is fitting that, 150 years after Gettysburg, a man who is half-black and half-white should stand up and tell us so. Obama built his speech on the bedrock of American exceptionalism, which has of late become a touchstone of conservative politicians. But he hardly expropriated their ground, for the belief that America was founded on ideals that make it a beacon for the world is ingrained in the three defining documents of our history – the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Each specifically harks back to those that came before, and Obama repeatedly references every one of them. Each summons the nation to live up to its stated ideals and to honor its past, not by worshipping at its altar, but by building a new future on its foundation. Each expands the definition of community – “Seneca, Selma, Stonewall;” “the poor, the sick, the marginalized” – and all make clear that “our journey is not complete.” And thank God our government has finally acknowledged global warming.