What a night. I stand with the people who believe that last night the American people took back the soul of this country. I am proud to be an American.
For the past several years I have not been. And that doesn't mean I'm not patriotic. It only means that I want to be proud for a reason, and reasons have just not been there. The Bush administration has been marked by arrogance, dishonesty, and corruption. I'm not proud of that. But last night we took our country back.
What a stressful lead up though. I was such a mess at work, unable to concentrate on anything, that I finally decided the only thing that would bring me any peace was to hug my kid. So I headed home, grabbed my pie basket, and headed out to school for my love fix. It helped. So did the fact that NPR called Pennsylvania while we were driving to our election party.
The Usual Suspects gathered for an evening of election watching and home cooked Chinese dinner featuring Obama Beef and (a favorite from the last gathering of this kind) John Kerry Shrimp. The John Kerry election night had of course been a disappointment, but the shrimp had been great. Everyone dug into their wine cellars and brought out the good stuff, the best of which was opened when CNN called Ohio. It was at that point one of us declared "Game over!"
When Obama's win was finally called, we dragged the kids away from Speed Racer and in to watch the concession and acceptance speeches with us. "Sit down and pay attention," we said. "This is history." Many of us remembered the only other time we had heard parents gather children and say this: Nixon's resignation. My family was on a pack trip up in Montana, and someone climbed a tall tree to place a radio that we listened to huddled in a light rain. We knew by the looks on the adults' faces that it was big. Like I'm sure our kids knew last night.
McCain's speech was gracious. I was impressed and am happy that he leaves the race on a positive note, showing us the man we glimpsed when in the heat of the campaign he told a supporter at a rally that Barack Obama is a decent family man who we do not need to fear as president. Obama's speech was one for the ages. I could listen to it over and over.
My joy at this outcome is tempered by two things. California proposition 8, amending our state constitution to ban gay marriage, appears to have passed. I thought a constitution was supposed to protect rights, not deny them. I'm convinced that in another generation (hopefully less) we will look back on this for what it is: a violation of civil rights. I'm optimistic: Look how far we have come on race in a single generation. I really believe that in American, anything is possible.
And I'm not happy to know that people who did not see the election go their way are angry, scared, and pessimistic about our future. One of the most amazing benefits of participating in the blogosphere is that I have conservative friends. Religious ones even! I live in an area so homogeneously liberal that I rarely come in contact with people whose views differ much from my own. Blogging has enabled me to get out a little. Many of us will never agree, but let's keep talking. And listening. We really are in this together.