Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I had a fantastic time last night, along with about 100 million other Americans. And masses of others across the globe, no doubt. First Jim and I joined Len at the cool Exit Art election event. Big space, huge screens with CNN, much smaller silk screening area making posters and fabric with a quote about change and then someone sewing the fabric into change purses! Also masks and cupcakes and photos and poster art on the walls. Lots of people, fewer seats. But when the bands began to play and the TVs no longer made noise, as in talking heads, we left for Times Square, taking along Charlotte an interesting new New Yorker who assured us her home state of California would give Obama the win. And it did.
Times Square was the place to be. We were surrounded by tourists speaking French, German, Italian, Spanish, and English in non-American accents. Not to mention acres of young American voters. At 11 pm when the results came in and Obama was crowned President elect, a wave of joy went through the streets. TV crews went by filming our jumping and cheering. I waved my hat. Escaped balloons briefly hugged the McCain image and then wedged themselves firmly next to Obama.
Then we went to a Westin bar to hear the speeches. The whole bar was silent for the two candidates... John McCain gracious in defeat, the old honorable John McCain, not the snide liar inhabiting his body in the last few months, was back. Then Obama. I admit that the 10 year old scotch may have loosened me up, but I cried through most of the speech and I am pretty hard to affect this way. It was just so good to hear the American story retold through his mind and heart.
Cheers rebounding from buildings, subway cars, and from the streets all the way home and for hours after. Called my daughters, both voted of course, Caitlin for the first time, she told me Skidmore students so happy they had an impromptu parade singing patriotic songs that spilled from campus into downtown Saratoga. Feels like America has really turned an important corner. Away from the fear, illegal war, unregulated greed, Guantanamo concentration camp, political Palin-style suicide, racism, and disasterous economic and disaster relief fumbles of the last 8 years. One CNN guy was a bit surprised Obama got 78 percent of the Jewish vote. How can he be surprised? Duh. Jews and Blacks have been looking out for each other for a long time, they both know a little about persecution... Jim said he hoped science and intelligence would once again be supported. I want to see WPA style options for the young and out of work. I want change.
And so begins the real sweat of turning promise into action. Mario Cuomo said "You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose." Yeah, but even realizing part of Obama's vision is going to help the US. I am so glad I don't have to feel quite so apologetic with my European and Canadian friends anymore.