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"I have seen the Promised Land..." -- 
I went to the Obama victory rally in Grant Park (<--my wife took those pictures, by the way) at the close of the polls on Election Night.  True to my word, I was donned in my American flag shirt, à la Abbie Hoffman, to celebrate the occasion.  I was widely complemented and photographed for my fashion statement by those in attendance.  And it was a statement, make no mistake.  Though my opinions are far left of the exiting administration, it's my flag too. 
Of course, I did have to go to a country/western website to order the shirt.  I'm lucky they still ship to Chicago.  I hear there's going to be heavy tariff barriers erected between Real America and Fake America in the coming presidential term.  
The evening was filled with peculiarly good vibrations for me.  Michigan Ave. was crowded with revelers.  But I don't think it was lost on anyone that, in the not-too-distant past, the massive, art deco visage of the Conrad Hilton Hotel has been witness to crowds of people and police far less civilized; the intersection of Michigan and Balbo has marked the site of a history far more tragic.
And speaking of the police, I think they did an excellent job, personally.  They were courteous, yet vigilant.  I saw a cop with a long billy club swinging from his belt and two dozen plastic flexicuffs slung around the club's wooden hilt.  He was ready for trouble.  I was glad to disappoint him.  (Though there are some rough-and-tumble housing projects just a few blocks south of there, so I'll wager that he was hoping for a calm night more than any of us.)
But the crowd in Grant Park was as huge as it was diverse, and even before the race was called for Obama, there was a pervading feeling of happiness and optimism, very conservatively spiced with a brisk dose of nighttime energy.  I ask you, how could you look at that beautiful skyline, all lit up in red, white and blue, and not feel a little giddy?  On the evening of Nov.4th, like most evenings, it was, indeed, "cooler by the lake," as they say.
The moment when he won was surreal and emotional.  I didn't shed Jesse Jackson-style tears.  But I did get choked up for a moment.  Being an American is a complicated thing in this day and age.  The brilliant part of it is that America is an idea, not a geography or a political ideology.  And looking at our new First Family, and listening to President Elect Barack Obama give his first speech as victor of this prolonged campaign season, his words reverberating off the cavernous skyscrapers, I believed in the idea once again.  The whole world was watching because the idea of America transcends national borders, race or ethnicity.  Seeing our first black president triumph over expectation and tradition to truly achieve, if only for few heady moments here in the closing months of 2008, a more perfect Idea of America, well, it made me proud to call this country home.
People have said that we witnessed history in Grant Park on Nov.4th.  I respectfully disagree.  The riots of 1968 are history, finally, and thankfully, dead and buried.  What we witnessed was the future.     

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Preserving disorder since 1980 ... full profile