Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thanks, America!

Holy shit, what a great day to be an American!

Before I start, I just want to say that the purpose of this post is not to rub anyone's nose in the sweet stench of hope, but rather to express genuine and sincere excitement about the events of the past 24 hours.

I had the pleasure of being in Grant Park last night with 240,000 of my closest friends. Jester, Kyla, Alex, Goni, Chambers, AnneMarie, and the upper middle Nierman were gathered about 300 feet or so away from the stage. Unfortunately, I am a man of limited vertical means, so I didn't have a clear view without sitting on Jester's shoulders. Luckily, there was a jumbotron.

For much of the night, the aforementioned jumbotron was showing CNN. The crowed would get quiet whenever a projection was about to be announced. If it ended up being a red state, people would boo, and I would make hilarious puns, much to the delight of the crowd. Examples include: "Utah? More like Boo-tah," "M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-why?" and "Fuck North Dakota."

When CNN projected Virginia ("more like Virgin-yeah!") for Obama, the crowd went pretty nuts, as that put him at 220 electoral votes. Then a few minutes later, there was the countdown to the closing of the polls in California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. If you were watching CNN, then you know that as soon as the countdown hit zero at 10 p.m. Central, they projected Obama the winner. Grant Park went insane. Everyone was jumping up and down, cheering, hugging, and making out with strangers.
Here are some photos of the event, courtesy of The Malangoni Bologna Pony. In the last two pictures, you can vaguely see the stage, just to the left of the American flag, and, more importantly, the jumbotron on the left of the pictures.
Granted, I predicted Obama's victory the day after the 2004 debacle, but I was still a little worried about the so-called Bradley effect. Plus, as a Chicago sports fan, an IU football fan, and someone who voted for Al Gore and, cough, John Kerry, I have learned that it is never advisable to count your chickens before they've hatched. But you, the voters, did not disappoint this time around. Quite the contrary, you guys kicked some major ass. Indiana? North Carolina? Virginia? Iowa? Florida? Ohio? Can I get a "O-hell yeah"?

For the first time in my life, I am excited about a President elect. There is a White Sox fan in the White House. In all seriousness, I think Obama is as intelligent, inspirational, articulate, even-keeled, and intellectually curious a President as we have had in a long time. And if you weren't moved by that speech, then you're trying too hard to dislike the man. He is the embodiment of the word "presidential." If last night's results prove anything, he has the power to unite what has become a very fractured country over the last eight years.

I know that many of you reading this and many of my friends are conservatives (some more hardcore than others), and to some extent I know exactly how you are feeling right now because I was there in 2000 and 2004. But no matter what your political views are or how you feel about Obama's tax plan, I hope you can appreciate just how historic an event this is. Take Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in professional baseball and multiply it by a hundred. Make no mistake, this is a watershed moment in American history.

And for those of you who didn't vote for "that one," when you're talking to your grandkids decades from now, I sincerely hope that whatever reason you give for not voting for America's first minority President is a good one. More so, I hope that Obama's presidency is successful enough that you can say that, in retrospect, you would have voted for him. On the other hand, I'm going to be telling my grandkids, "I was there, and it was pretty fucking awesome," and then my kids are gonna be all, "Dammit Dad, quit swearing around the kids," and I'll be all, "Whatever," and my grandkids will be all, "You fucking rock, Grandpa," and I'll be all, "Call me Ishmael, bitches," and they'll be all "Holla!"

But I digress. I haven't fully grasped the magnitude of what happened last night, and I probably won't for years. I think the weirdest -- and probably the greatest -- thing is that my kids (if I were capable of reproduction) will never know what it was like to live in a country that has never elected a minority President. Double negatives aside, that is a pretty amazing and empowering thought. There are no more limits. I can't imagine how this must feel for African-Americans, especially those who have lived through the pre-Civil Rights era. What once must have seemed hundreds of years away is now here, and it must feel unbelievably liberating.

Well, I'm kind of rambling, so I'll tie this up. Needless to say, I'm proud of my fellow Americans, I'm happy that there is a positive energy flowing from this election, and I look forward to following President Obama as he rides that "yes we can" attitude to reunite this country over the next four (and hopefully eight) years.

4 comments:

The Weez said...

I remember being at a similar rally for a beloved black man at Grant Park.

Of course, it was Michael Jordan, and we were celebrating the Bulls 6th World Championship.

And of course, there were 800,000 people there, not a paltry 200,000...

But as Jordan famously said, "Republicans buy shoes too."

aaron burr said...

get ahold of yourself, man, you're swooning, for god's sake!

the sense i get from your post is that you voted for a symbol. which is exactly what obama wanted. america is dead. finito. it's over. obama's election isn't so much a joyous event as it is a death knell. the america that made it possible for him to do what he has done will never reassume its place as the most prominent beacon to the world. it no longer cares anything for self-reliance or discipline, the rule of law, any of it. it's a loosey-goosey collapsing empire.

none of this is obama's fault, of course; he's a symptom of the ailment. mccain was no salve, either. these were our candidates? john mcamnesty and barack hussein obama. i weep for america.

you say obama has the power to unite america. but what if his effect is to divide it even more deeply? there are already reports of racially-inspired brawls at schools across the country.

obama can't walk on water. he can't cure cancer, he can't make the poor rich (well, lets hold off on that one), and he can't rectify the deep-seeded toxicity in american culture and society.

we're a chinese colony held hostage by dustbin dictators in the middle east and south america. when did we start being such pussies? and electing one of our own?

GMYH said...

I didn't vote for a symbol. Frankly, his race was not an issue for me, and it's not why I voted for him. If he was white, red, brown, or yellow, it wouldn't have made a difference to me because I voted for the man, not the color of his skin. That said, it was still an historic event in American history, which is what the post was meant to celebrate.

I'm not hailing him as the Second Coming, but I do think he can unite those in this country who are looking for a true leader. Obviously no one knows at this point if he will do that, but I'm saying that I think he can, and I think America made the right choice.

Beth said...

Andrew, I completely agree. Seriously, we lived with Bush for 8 years. I felt ill when he was re-elected, physically ill. I thought there was no way our country would make it through the next 4 years (and clearly I had good reason to fear). So we do understand where the McCain voters stand. But if we made it through 8 years of Bush, they can deal with Obama for the next 4--and the majority of the country (more of a majority than Bush ever won) believes he'll prove your fears unfounded.