So I didn’t get a chance to blog after the election, but I was on Twitter and Facebook all throughout, updating my status with things like “Yeah, baby! (Ohio).” That morning, we let our nanny fold clothes while we took Shea to the polling place down the street. For us Californians, it was an exciting day from the minute the polls opened because we knew Obama had a good chance of winning. Throughout the day I checked NYTimes.com while working on my book. The headline didn’t change, “Long lines at the polls” or something like that, until 3 p.m. when polls in the East began to close. I’ve never been so excited about an election. I remember when Clinton was elected the first time, and it was, again, after four years of a Bush in the White House and people flocked to the polls to vote for change. I remember when Gore lost, and some people in the newsroom where I worked were crying. I remember how unfair we felt the election was, how upset we all were that That Idiot Bush was going to be our new president. And then again, four years later, we sighed with the knowledge that we’d have to put up with him for another four years. I remember the very first debate last year. It was the end of April and I was in the hospital after having an appendectomy, and the Democrats were debating somewhere, I forget where. And the election seemed SO far off (more than year and a half away). This was the first election that I bothered to watch all the major debates, that I went online to watch speeches that I’d missed live. I didn’t vote for Obama in the primary. I voted for Clinton. It was a tough decision because I really liked both candidates, but after reviewing their few differences on the policies, I felt more closely aligned with Clinton. I felt Clinton was a stronger candidate, too, and a much more confident speaker, but I also knew I’d be happy with whomever won. Fast forward to Nov. 4 and I turned CNN on the minute I got home and watched both it and the NYTimes.com (and Facebook, and Twitter), while feeding and playing with Shea. I had to tutor that night but couldn’t tear myself away from the TV, so I called my student and asked if we could reschedule. She had a test the next day, she said, so I told her I’d be right over. She had the TV on, too, so I watched election results while she wrote French sentences in her notebook. And then, at 8 o’clock when I was turned away from the TV, horns started honking in the street outside and I turned to see everyone cheering on TV and knew that the election had been called. I think if I’d been at home I would have jumped up and down, or cried, or hugged someone, but since I was tutoring, I kept quiet. I watched McCain’s concession speech in Arizona while my student wrote answers to the questions I’d asked her in French and then, at the end of my hour with her, Obama came on to make his speech and I said, “I can’t go home or I’ll miss it. I have to stay here and watch the speech.” So we watched the speech together, me wondering aloud whether Biden and their two families weren’t onstage for security reasons, whether there were snipers posted to take out anyone who made an attempt on Obama’s life and how long it would be before there was an attempt. I wasn’t alive when Kennedy was assassinated, but I can imagine the sadness if that ever happened to Obama, the way it would both bring together and split our country apart if he were ever shot. And then I went home and followed the other election results online, like the passage of Prop 8, the ban on same-sex marriage, in CA, which upset a lot of my friends. Most of the other props went the way I wanted, like high-speed rail from Sacramento and the Bay Area through LA to San Diego. Prop 2 passed, which was unfortunate, but I think people voted with their emotions rather than on the facts (Prop 2 prohibits farmers from keeping animals in small cages and applied almost exclusively to chickens. It will put a lot of farmers out of business and increase the incidences of bird flu and other diseases.)
And while everyone in CA and Europe and much of the country has been rejoicing that Obama won, that a Democrat won, that a black man won the 44th presidency, McCain supporters are “getting ready for four years of socialism.” I don’t have much sympathy for them. We had to put up with eight years of George W. Bush, so it’s time they put up with our guy, and I find it hard to believe he can do any worse. I understand their opinions and concerns, that socialism doesn’t work in Europe, that we don’t want to be a socialist country, that people voted for Obama because he’s young, because he’s black, because he’s different, despite his lack of experience. My opinion about the experience is SO WHAT. Having a ton of experience doesn’t necessarily make a better president, and Obama is surrounding himself with the best and brightest advisers to compensate for what he doesn’t know. I’m not worried about his lack of experience. Everyone is hurting economically—everyone. I lost three long-time French students last week, one because he was laid off from his software job and the other two because they are near retirement age and lost a big chunk of their 401k. And we’ve lost money, we both have. We had to think hard before buying plane tickets home for Christmas and to my nephew’s wedding in February, and I’m still wondering if we made the right decision (to go). So we’re all concerned about the economy, and I seriously hope things don’t get worse under Obama. On the other hand, as bad as the economy is, this election was about more than the economy. It was about restoring faith in our president and in our government, giving us someone to be proud of for a change. For years we Democrats have been ashamed of our president, ashamed of how our country is perceived abroad. It’s important that we stop killing people in Iraq, that we restore relations with allies around the globe, that we stop pissing off the Muslim countries. Maybe things will get worse and we’ll wish we’d voted for McCain, but I think that’s a chance we’ll have to take, a chance I’m glad we did take on Nov. 4. Besides, we have to look at this guy for the next four (or eight) years on TV and who better to look at that Barack Obama? He’s pretty damn hot. And thank God Sarah Palin isn’t going to be our VP (although I would have enjoyed four years of Tina Fey’s imitations of her).
Before I sign off, I have to say one more thing—that it does annoy me that most people in this country vote along party lines (and I’m one of them), that so few people really think for themselves and just vote Democrat or Republican based on where they live, what their parents and friends vote, etc. When one friend expressed her concern that the Republicans might do something illegal to steal the election, I was happy to hear another friend say that he had faith that the Democrats were equally crooked. I get so tired of hearing Democrats slam Republicans and vice versa. (Can’t we all just get along?) I feel like the narrowmindedness of Democrats in ultra-liberal places like Berkeley is equal to the narrowmindedness of ultra-conservative Christian Right people in other cities. I think the best attitude is to be suspicious of all politicians, all policies, and all political promises. That’s my new party. Suspicioucrat.