More than once on Tuesday night, movie trailers featuring Daniel Day-Lewis inhabiting the title role of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" interrupted electoral-vote tallies and political analysis. And watching the slow, deliberate movements of the 16th president, with epic music swelling in the background, you couldn't help but draw some parallels.
Neighbor angry at neighbor. Deep reservations about the union. Americans divided into clusters, feeling powerless against a government many despise or disdain.
Yet under Lincoln, somehow Americans made it through. It was bloody and ugly and perhaps almost fatal that time around, but the experiment in a democratic republic survived.
Obama hinted at that in his victory speech. "We are not," he insisted, "as divided as our politics suggest."
Yes, "Lincoln" is merely a movie about a man who lived long ago and did some things we long remember. But the uncertainties that it summons linger still, uncomfortably and across party lines, as this election draws to its weary end. A house divided against itself: Can it stand?
Says the current and future president: "The task of perfecting our union moves forward."