Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The election: My final words

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.

25 comments:

smoss said...

Loved your description and am feeling much the same. For the first time in my life, I will hang an American Flag next to my porch. For the first time in my feel like this is MY country. Today, I'm proud to be an American. So come over soon (can't guarantee how long we'll be waving the flag) but for now, I'm damn proud! BTW, LOVED the PIE!!!!!

KatieGirlBlue said...

Oh, what a beautiful post! Really, it brought tears to my eyes. It's so amazing to see this change take place. I can feel it, even in Utah (which voted way more blue than it has in elections past....).

Happy day, happy times.

Jen Yu said...

Writing to you from the Blue state of Colorado: It's a good feeling and I think that unlike Peggy Noonan who gloated so ungraciously in 2004, liberals are not seeking to rub conservative noses in this - the state this county is in now requires that we all roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty together. As my bud said on my personal blog: now the hard work begins. It's true, it is hard work repairing the damage from the past - but we all have a stake in the future no matter our politics, race, religion. Good on ya. I loved this post. xxoo

ElleBee said...

I'm with you, Cindy. I may be Conservative, but I'm so glad to have good Liberal friends. Many of my fellow McCain supporters (even fellow Christians)are frustrating the heck out of me today. I'm as proud to be an American today as I was yesterday. I may not agree with everything Obama says, but he is intelligent, well-spoken, and believes in America. Certainly, as McCain put it during the campaign, not someone to fear as President of the United States.

Purple Flowers said...

Beautifully written.

Always Organizing said...

What a beautifully written post. Thank you.

J said...

Well said. And I feel for you on Prop 8. I was very surprised it didn't pass. Someday, we will look back on this with the same outrage as we now do about segregation, for instance.

Deb said...

Cindy,

Wonderful post!!! I am outraged at Prop 8, and wonder if and how it can be reversed.

I am proud once again to be American.

Broady said...

What a great way to celebrate an historic election, and to give you kids a special memory of the evening, as you have your own of the Nixon resignation.

So as a (moderate) conservative, I was disappointed things didn't go my way, but to quote another commenter, I am as proud to be an American today as I was on Monday. As Mr. Obama said during his speech, he will be my president, too. He'll have my respect and support as he leads our country. Now I may have to make a few (futile) calls to my congressman regarding future legislation... ; ) but I am sincerely glad that so many Americans are feeling optimistic about our future again.

adozeneggs said...

Well said, I'm so happy/relieved I could cry. We had to wait until last night to uncork the bubbly.

Angelina said...

We had Max looking at the NPR election map and were explaining to him what was going on the whole time.

It's the first time since my son was born that I feel like I can say really hopeful things about our own country. That means a lot to me.

I'm still shrieking and hollering with excitement over here.

I do believe that we're not done with civil rights for gay people yet. Civil rights for African Americans took a really long time too, so we must be patient, active, and alert.

A. said...

It's so cool that Sophie was able to witness history. I can't wait to tell my kids that I voted for this country's first black president.

And how about that speech? After 8 years of bumble and stumble, it's so refreshing to have someone so eloquent and intelligent back in the White House!

Carla said...

Where I live, we had election results that were expected, but make me sad. We banned affirmative action in the state, we denied our wonderful community college system the tiniest bit of additional money, we prohibited the addition of flouride to public water systems in medium and small cities, and the one-issue candidates were just handed the keys to their offices.

Thank God that on the national level we elected not just a President, but a Leader. I am so grateful.

Traci Anne said...

It's gotten to the point where all I can say about the whole situation is:

"OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!" (followed by excited squealing)

Prop 8 WILL get overturned, I can feel it!

Midnight Madras said...

I am just so glad it's over! Life can get back to normal. Cindy, I too am so glad to have friends from all different perspectives. Variety really is the spice of life, and learning is one of the things that makes life worth living. I really, really hope that the new President proves those of us who are nervous and scared wrong, I really do. I love my country enough that I would rather be wrong and eat crow than see our nation suffer.

We have an American flag hanging outside our home and it isn't going anywhere just because "our" candidate and "our" party lost. I can't help but reflect upon the fact that I hear so many saying that they are FINALLY proud to be an American and they are FINALLY feeling patriotic and FINALLY hanging a flag. It's sort of like being a fan of your home team only when they make it to the playoffs. If you can't be proud of your country (which is not the same thing as your government)when your party isn't holding the White House, how patriotic can you really be? Just food for thought.

One last word to my disappointed fellow Conservatives...and if this is me reaching across the aisle too much, too bad: I cannot help but feel in my gut that a father of two innocent, beautiful, girls like the Obama daughters would want only to help provide a safe, productive future for his children. I may not agree with the way he plans to get us there, but I do believe he has honorable intentions and I, therefore, am waiting until he has actually gotten into office to pass final judgment.

Midnight Madras said...

And the English teacher inserted a superfluous comma after "beautiful." Oops!

Sweet Bird said...

I am so glad you included the children, it's such an important moment in history. It was especially touching seeing parents bring their kids to polling locations. I too was pleasantly surprised at McCain's gracious concession - it reminds me of when I liked him, before he wanted to be president so badly.

I actually used up an hour of my shrink time railing about the injustices of Prop. 8. It's so saddening to know that people will so arbitrarily take away civil rights, not realizing the consequences. I can only hope we can launch a successful appeal - thankfully the next generation should not be so cruel.

Cindy said...

mm: Thanks so much for writing. God knows it's easier to be gracious from where I sit; I truly appreciate you sentiments.

One thing I should clarify: I may not always be proud of my country, but that doesn't mean I don't love my country. It's sort of like with my kid: I'm not always proud of her (e.g., if she's being rude or sassy), but I do always love her.

And I was going to forgive you that comma since you get it right the rest of the time. I admire your attention to these very important details.

hope said...

God Bless America my home sweet home.

Becs said...

Beautifully put, life is good!
Best, Becs

Petunia said...

...just reminding you that the Democratic Clinton administration was plagued by much more serious "arrogance, dishonesty, & corruption". For goodness' sake, Clinton was only the 2nd president in American history to be impeached.

Angelina said...

Cindy- I was going to say the exact same thing. Feeling pride in something or someone unconditionally makes pride worthless while the opposite is true of love.

I have always told Max that I will love him forever, always, just as much later as I do now but that if he lives a life of crime I'm giving him up to the police. I promised him I'd visit him in jail frequently and still love him. But I'm not going to be proud of his actions if they are substandard or dangerous and certainly I'm not going to support such behavior.

I feel the same about my country. There will always be much to love here in the US and a million things I cherish about the community I live in but that doesn't mean I will always feel pride for it. Pride is something you have to earn, love is something that is given freely.

But right now? I'm feeling both for my country and it feels great.

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

What a great post! I cried when CNN called it. Big tears. That have continued to appear on my face at random times- usually when I hear them re-play Obama's aceptance speech.

Prop 8 leaves a pit in my stomach too. But I have faith and hope that just as it is not longer illegal for individuals of different races to marry, gays will one day soon gain equality.

I am so proud to be an American but like everything in life, there is always room for improvement!

Summer said...

A great post and I'm right there with you.

Holly said...

You really nailed it on the head about what Prop 8 really stands for! It's to bad the rest of CA didn't get it. A girlfriend and I were having a late night conversation and pretty much everything you said about this election came out of our mouths. Thank you for putting it down so gracefully! Hurray for our Country!