Step one taken, and now we have reason for hope.

Obama’s victory in Iowa, and to a certain extent Huckabee’s as well, is a victory for “out of the mold” candidates. They are the only two candidates in the entire field who come across as authentic human beings. That doesn’t mean they’re perfect. It doesn’t mean they’re not politicians. Let’s not go overboard. But in a field of status-quo pols who came up through the “old” system, they stand out as genuine.

Now the rest of the field (those who aren’t dropping out) are scrambling and scratching their heads and asking, bewildered, “How do I become authentic in the next week?” Look for lots of calculated, contrived authenticity to come. The problem is, people can tell the difference. Iowa voters just proved that. Let’s hope New Hampshire voters can do the same.

And what about the rest of us? We have a love/hate relationship with Hope. Can we allow ourselves, those of us who recognize that Obama is the only option, to get excited? Or will he end up another Bobby Kennedy casualty? Will we end up disillusioned as the media dredges up anything and everything it can to show “he’s not as good as he seems”?

The point isn’t that he’s only worth voting for if he’s perfect. He’s not. The point is he’s the only one with the unique set of qualities that will allow him to begin to make a difference–and only if the American people get behind him in large enough numbers to throw the fear of God (and people power) into the old-style politicos.

The fact is, we have no alternative but to get our hopes up–even knowing they could be dashed. It’s the only way change can happen. Clinton can’t/won’t do it. Huckabee can’t/won’t do it. Edwards can’t/won’t do it. We have one shot at this, a historic opportunity. Do we have enough courage to get our hopes up?

The next step is this Tuesday in New Hampshire. So far so good.

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