Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Night

Since An OC Girl came looking for my post-election reaction, I felt compelled to post.

It's hard to sum up how powerful last night felt. There's something to be said for being in a huge room full of people on the cusp of history who all share your excitement, nervousness, wonder, and glee. It was truly amazing to be jumping up and down in 3 inch stiletto boots that I'd had on since 13 hours before and hugging everyone in sight, screaming at the top of my lungs, first as CNN called Virginia and then shortly after as they announced the entire race. I don't think any of us were expecting it to be decided so fast, and then BAM, McCain made his concession speech. Compared to the last two elections, when we all went to bed wondering what was going to happen, it was unexpected to have what could be considered a landslide. I don't think any of us expected that.

For me, the presidential race could be boiled down to an essential issue--who was truly speaking to ALL Americans. TV and commentary last night and today all piled onto that issue, and I'm not sure why all of a sudden they seem to realize that's what the race was about, but I'm glad. For once, a candidate was really bringing people of diverse backgrounds together. All you had to do was look at an Obama rally vs a McCain rally to see this. The stark whiteness of McCain's crowd spoke for itself. The crowd last night at the DPVA party was equally as telling. College kids, greying couples, black, white, Latino, Asian, gay, straight. All people who got it. That this really was about history, for more reasons than just the first black President. I don't think most unenlightened white people were able to grasp what it means for people to feel like they are finally being heard, that their voice is being represented. Delegate Jennifer McClellan of Richmond noted that Virginia hadn't voted Democratic since the Civil Rights Movement. A fellow supporter last night commented that the electoral map looked like the civil war, with blue in the North and red in the South. The 60's was not that long ago, yet it seems eons away culturally. I hope Americans are finally as surprised and disgusted as I am to realize that we haven't come as far as we think. This election proves otherwise. The world was watching us, and don't you wonder what they think now? Isn't it funny that most other developed nations, even those not as diverse as ours, have been far more progressive in their politics for far longer? Do you think they congratulate us, welcome us to their world stage, or do you think they are shaking their heads at their poor, slow-to-catch-on ally?

And isn't it terrible, that as Obama came to the podium to give his victory speech, that a uneasy feeling in my gut worried about something terrible happening to him at this pivotal point? That I had to even worry about the possibility. That others in the room hushed to hear him and thought their own private dark thoughts. That the sound of the helicopter in the background was hopefully a good thing.

So today is another day, just like every other day. My day-to-day has not changed. But let us not doubt Margaret Mead in that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Yes We Can

2 comments:

anOCgirl said...

yay! so now i know your thoughts!

well, maybe i was drunk on post-election euphoria, but i wasn't really worried about obama's safety during his big speech. his campaign was pretty adamant about not making a big deal about the threats he received and i'm sure obama got lots of threats we didn't hear about in the media. but his attitude about this is representative of one of the themes of his campaign: not to give in to the politics of fear. he remained positive and inspirational despite all the ugliness around him. and what did that get him? the highest elected office of the land.

Terra said...

I totally agree that he really was speaking for all Americans. That's an amazing thing that hasn't happened until now. I felt your fear too, about something happening. That said, the secret service are REALLY good at what they do :)