Wow. What a night.
I am having trouble finding the words to describe election day but as a writer, I suppose I must.
I woke up early on the 4th and dragged my tired ass for a walk to my polling place. I was braced for long lines with a paperback and my cell phone, but I was able to breeze right in and dot with indelible ink my vote to end the eight years of soul sucking, gut wrenching madness.
As soon as I had collected my free Starbucks coffee (a ringing endorsement of voting even for the non-politically motivated) my phone started buzzing. Clifton asked whether I had found a nice flat in London and could he join me?…apparently McCain was up in the polls
“It’s too early!” I texted back. “It’s too early!” I screamed to the heavens. “Everyone chill the fuck out!”
But I did start pricing plane tickets to Heathrow.
It was hard for an election junkie such as myself to stay off the computer and away from the TV on a day like this, but I forced myself to do it. I didn’t want the anxiety or stomach ache to worsen due to some mewling pundits. So, luckily when evening fell, I dashed off to meet Jim at the Declare Yourself – Keldof Election party at Zune.
Zune’s circular lobby space made the perfect environment for a gang of anxious hipsters and media professionals. A huge screen projecting the CNN projections was monitored closely while people enjoyed the open bar and some Pinks hot dogs.
I hadn’t eaten all day and Pinks is about as appealing to me as the smell it emits, but I ordered one anyways. My stomach was in complete knots as I attempted to get it down me. The wine went down a lot easier.
Kevin of Keldof ran around, headset on, making sure everyone was enjoying themselves. Rich Kim from Blink Of An I took photos of our nervous but hopeful faces. There were electoral maps to color in with red or blue markers once a candidate was announced a winner, and Ana of La Boum and Pash was spinning on the decks. A top ten of the best political comedy shorts by Funny Or Die was promised following the election results and acceptance speech.
It felt like the air was slowly being sucked out of the room as each state come back with their tallies. Obama was up, but I didn’t feel safe. If you need to ask why, well, there are some ballot boxes floating somewhere off the Florida Keys that can explain my caution.
Then the countdown until the California polls closed…5, 4, 3, 2, 1…and all of a sudden, the chyron on the screen flipped…OBAMA IS THE PROJECTED WINNER…OBAMA IS THE PRESIDENT ELECT.
It seemed like it happened so fast. True, it took the DNC to start planning in 2006. This was a long hard road and an excruciating wait…but the last few seconds were a blur. Champagne was popped and people screamed and shouted. Strangers hugged each other and cried.
Three little girls danced and threw their hands in the air as Blur’s Song blared over the speakers (nice call, Ana). I stood stone still with my mouth covered in happy shock, as Jim stood beside me saying “we did it.”
The party was a bi-partisan party as declareyourself.com is about voting, not one particular candidate. But the crowd was overwhelmingly pro Obama. The look on the faces of the people there was incredible. It’s a happiness and joy I haven’t seen on the faces of Americans since pre 9/11…
Not only did the entire country celebrate in the streets, but CNN showed people celebrating all over the world. Our new president elect has the potential be a world leader, a great man, a respected man…haven’t been able to say that for eight years…
Calls and texts started coming in on my phone. I had a few messages from some Londoners congratulating me and hoping I was partying the night away. I told them that “we” as a collective, had done something right for once in 8 years. Perhaps now we could hold our head up high again and be proud to be Americans. Perhaps now when we are over seas, other countries won’t point to a newspaper headline, look at is and say “what the fuck”?
It is the end of an error. Celebrations and congratulations are in order…but next week we must roll our sleeves up and help our president elect put this country back together
The future is here. Let’s rock.