i spent election day on pins & needles. i was at work all day long, hovering on cnn.com, time.com, bbc.co.uk, reading punditry and projections and accounts of voter hassling and this and that. but i knew we wouldn’t start getting to the good stuff til at least 7 pm, which was a solid hour into my second job of the day, that job that doesn’t give me constant access to constant updates that i am constantly seeking.
luckily, the store where i work had a tv going in the back, and we were all making frequent dashes to see what the latest numbers were showing. not surprisingly the store was dead – guess everyone else in the city was also at home on the edge of their couch. finally, finally, i was able to head for the rev’s parents’ house at 9:45 pm for not only the most updated electoral vote numbers (which, by then, were already headed the way i wanted them to be heading) but also dinner. right as i finished wolfing down my food, i was the one person there to first see the banner across the screen: “Barack Obama Elected President.” i excitedly pointed it out to everyone and we all were triumphant, excited, elated, relieved. i can’t remember a moment like this to save my life, besides its diametrically opposite but equally historically significant day of 9/11 – each was one of those moments where you just knew that this was a BIG DEAL and that you would remember it and the day forever.
the night was spent watching the mccain concession speech, followed by obama’s supremely inspirational, confident, positive, and uniting acceptance speech. and for the record, i liked michelle obama’s dress. thought the girls looked adorable too. pete was so excited he continuously solicited high fives from all there, took breaks to call his friends and scream “OWWWW!! WOOOO!!” into the phone, and even at night’s end carried me the entire way down his parent’s driveway to my car.
i am so proud of this country, for finally pulling itself together and saying, “You know what? We’re done.” finally i feel like voting can make a difference, that someone can legitimately win an election without major shadiness going on, that a desire for change and intelligence and rationality can unite an entire country across any kind of divides in one purpose. i am so excited, too, for the first-time voters who get to have such a positive experience. they truly rallied and brought themselves out, smashing all notions of teenage apathy. i only wish i had had the same powerful experience in 2004. what a great way for them to start, though, and inspire continued political participation and interest.
i am ready to see what president obama will do for us, but want to remind myself and everyone of the impossibility of significant achievements in just four short years, and the danger of creating overly high expectations. i fear that if obama does not make the sweeping global changes the country is demanding rapidly enough, public sentiment will shift quickly and we will devolve back into being led by the fear-mongering right. please be realistic, please be rational, but please hold him and your local leaders accountable. it’s time that we take charge again and make this country by the people and for the people rather than by a few and for even fewer.