This is an extraordinary moment for our generation, whose entire worldviews were formed over the last eight years. This election ushers in not only a new administration, but a new political reality: kakistocracy, it seems, is not inevitable after all. I am twenty-one years old, and am so calloused by long years spent subsisting on relief at those moments when our government was anything but disastrous, the notion that we could actually expect the very best from American leadership is almost scandalously novel. It will take time to absorb.

Fortunately, with a new course now charted for the next four years, but Obama’s inauguration still months away, we now have that time. Let us use it to consider how we will explain the past eight years to future generations. How, they will ask, when America should have been presiding over the start of a new century of global peace and prosperity, could it have been made to endure an idiot dauphin under a regency of washed-up Trotskyites, some of the most breathtaking appointments since Caligula’s horse, and a heinous cabal of panderers, perjurers, perverts, sycophants, bigots, lackeys, war criminals, pharisees, and usurpers. To think, they will say, that such people could have once ruled a nation. Answers and accountability are not negotiable—too many lives have been mangled or destroyed; too many unconscionable stains on American honor have been perpetrated.

Cynics dismiss young people’s enthusiasm for Obama as messianism. They misunderstand. If this is a second coming at all, it is that of Lincoln, who, for all his greatness, was only too human. The crises Obama faces are vast, and perhaps insoluble. This election is no salvation—we never thought it would be. But it is a welcome deliverance.