Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes We Did

Well, it's over. This election cycle has finally ended, and for the first time in my voting life, it has ended with the candidate of my choice.

My night was pretty anticlimatic. Argentina sprang ahead and the U.S. fell back, so I'm now 6 hours ahead of the west coast, which means that when Washington state polls clossed it was already 2 am here.

At 10 - my time - I went to the official Democrats Abroad party:
It was nearly 90 degrees here today (no joke!) and the humidity ensured that the heat stuck around after nightfall. Much to my dismay, there was no air conditioning in the very packed bar. Plus, for some reason, they were letting people smoke inside. So, I quickly abandoned that party (thought not before getting interviewed yet again, this time by a newspaper) and headed for another one a few blocks away, which was even more crowded and even less air conditioned:
I was sort of depressed at this point, since I realized that, other than being in an uncomfortably hot bar, I was sharing it with the type of people I generally try to avoid socializing with in the U.S.; why would I want to spend such an important night with them abroad? Why not conform this historic event to my Argentinean realities? So, I quit that party faster than the first one and got on a bus to Sol's house to watch with her family:
They fed me empanadas and we watched CNN en español as the breeze from the patio doors brought the smell of night jasmine inside; clearly I had chosen correctly.

At 1:30 I decided if I headed out then I'd get home in time to see the west coast polls close (all the news channels here were, and still are, covering the election). Sometime during my bus ride home, Obama was declared the winner. When I walked in to my apartment and turned on the TV, McCain was walking on stage to give his concession speech. I could tell he was incredibly gracious, even through the Spanish dubbing, and I think he's a good person I just happen to disagree with on a lot of issues.

I didn't have much of an emotional reaction at this point; I pretty much knew Obama would win, and it's hard to get excited without other people stoking those flames. I saw a headline on The Stranger's website that read: "Whatever happens, don't be alone on election night." Reading this actually made my heart ache for a moment; I wish I could have been at Adam and Jeremy's in Columbia city enjoying the moment with a large group of friends, or on Capitol hill with Justin screaming with the crowd, or in New York with Jacob G watching the city explode into fireworks and festivities. But instead I was here, isolated in my apartment in a foreign country, migrating between my computer in the living room and my television in the bedroom, trying to force myself to realize the importance of the moment.

And then, Obama spoke.
Live dubbing still lets you listen to the actual words, albeit faintly, and his eloquence yet again struck me (once I got past my initial "What in the hell is Michelle wearing?" reaction). He didn't say anything that was necessarily new or exciting; I know his message so well, as do all of his supporters, that any one of us could have given the speech. But just listening to him speak is thrilling, now more than ever, especially since I've spent the last 8 years frantically turning off the television any time G.W. Bush appears since his voice literally makes me shiver. I admit, I cried during the speech. I saw Jesse Jackson and Oprah crying in the crowd too, and I'd like to think that, despite their high visibility, they were crying for the same reasons I was.

Then I noticed that he was standing behind a discreet glass fortress. "Is that BULLET-PROOF glass??" I thought with horror. The terrifying image of someone taking a shot at him during his presidential nomination acceptance speech made my heart race in fear, and I silently implored any would-be assassins to please reconsider or get caught. Then I reminded myself that maybe it isn't bullet-proof glass after all, and just there to ensure that any one of the nearly million supporters present didn't jump on stage for a photo op. I convinced myself that this was the case, and tried to focus on his speech again, but the seed had been planted.

So now we just have to see what happens. (With his presidency, not with assassination attempts - can we please try not to think about that?) It's encouraging that Democrats are winning such wide-sweeping victories, hopefully allowing him to get more of his policies enacted, and quickly. I'm excited to see who he chooses for his cabinet, and what he does with those highly emphasized first 100 days. If he can deliver even half of what he's promised, it will have been well worth the struggle to get him elected. And, for my Republican readers, I want to say I really am sorry for how you're feeling right now. It's a feeling I know well. But I want to assure you that Obama's tax plan will save you more than McCain's would have - there are a variety of independent studies that verify this! Just give him a chance. Maybe you'll like him.

It's after 4:00 am here, which in my normal life would be late but in my alternative, living-abroad life is a pretty standard bedtime. Still, it will be hard to sleep tonight. I imagine Obama waking up tomorrow; you just know the first through through his head will be, "Holy Sh**. I am the next president of the United States."


Sara said...

It sounds like your election night wasn't so bad after all. I, too, wich that I could have been in the US last night. I think it would have been a lot of fun.

Renée said...

I was lucky enough to have Ashley and Carol with me to celebrate. It was a terrific moment when they declared Obama the winner. I really wished I had been in the U.S. at that moment. I cried during his speech and the morning after when I read about it in the NY and LA Times.

It's weird, I almost still can't believe it.

carrola29 said...

I TOTALLY related to this blog, but I actually sought out the gringo bar that I avoid like the plague (under normal circumstances) and was pretty happy I did- there was a distinct energy that I wouldn't have experienced anywhere with chilenos. the ones that were at the bar were looking at us like we were crazy- our reaction was probably only fit for a Chilean World cup victory, not a presidential election. I cried and screamed until I lost my voice. It was an amazing moment- but, like you and Renee I wish i'd been home for it.