I spent most of Tuesday on pins and needles... and the later in the day it got the worst the feeling became. I wanted to go home and follow the election, and I didn't want to. It was nerve-wracking.
Finally, I got on the bus after doing my weekly shopping. This was a little after 8 PM. I cracked open a book to try and get my mind off the election. Then I hear the bus driver talking to a passenger, saying that Barack Obama had taken Pennsylvania, and that it was an unexpected victory for him. There's some more talking. I asked the driver if he knew who was winning overall; he wasn't sure. Still, at that moment I felt a great weight shift slightly off my chest. It felt like a positive omen, especially with the way the driver joked about a robo-call he had received on his cell, saying Obama wanted him on his cabinet. I laughed. It felt good.
Walking home from the bus, I passed by a vacant lot - nothing but forlorn grass and weeds. Someone had stuck a bunch of campaign signs along the side, including a John McCain one. In a moment of giddy arrogance, I pulled it out of the ground and threw it aside. Childish? Probably. Theraputic? Definitely. My only defense is that I would not have done it if it were on someone's private property. This was unclaimed territory, at least.
Max had the MSNBC election coverage streaming on his computer. He was his usual placid self while I kept fidgeting (which he found amusing!). We got pretty excited, though, when it was announced that Ohio went for Obama. That was when I knew a corner had been turned.
I admit it - I was in tears when Obama clinched it around 11 PM - and also when he gave his acceptance speech just after midnight. The possibility of America getting it wrong again - so soon after 2004 - felt palpable and real, to me and, I'm willing to bet, a lot of other people. I mean, props to McCain for his gracious and classy speech after it was over, but the images of the crowds in Phoenix and Chicago spoke volumes about this campaign: the former was almost exclusively white; the latter was decidedly multicultural.
Barack Obama brought together people from all walks of life. That was his intent from the get-go and it worked. I attended a rally of his here in Columbus. I saw it first-hand, up close. With current affairs as tumultuous as they are, now more than ever, all of us need to stand together, and not let petty divisions of race and class and gender and sexual orientation and political ideology keep us apart. That was the message Obama sent in his speech last night and I believe people are finally beginning to get it.
Of course, only a fool would believe that bigotry is DOA because of Obama's victory. The news of anti-gay legislation being passed in several states (including California)
tempers the festivities to a degree. Obama himself is on the record as favoring civil unions over actual marriages for gays. Still, that's something that can be worked on - and I believe he's open-minded enough to at least listen to the cries of Americans demanding equal treatment under the law and consider their perspective. That's in the future, though.
Right now, though, that future is looking much brighter than it did yesterday - and that's something we can all be grateful for.