I didn't particularly care for either of the candidates running for president this year. While the realization of the importance of this election weighed heavily on me, I found it hard to feel passionate about one or the other. I saw the good and bad in both of them and found myself somewhat apathetic towards them, but not towards the political process.
As I stood in line for 2 hours to cast my ballot, I did what I typically do in situations like this: people watching. There was the kid behind me who had just recently turned 18. He was about to burst with excitement. I told him how lucky he was that this was his first election, for it was likely to be quite a historical one. There was the 78 year old man who, despite the fact that he was eligible to go to the front of the line, opted not to, stating that his ability to vote was worth the wait. There was the couple in front of me who were reading to each other from a newspaper article detailing each candidate's views on different issues. When not people watching, I stood with my iPod blaring tunes and reading an AEA manual. I am sure I was bopping around a little bit... and that somewhere, someone, right now is writing a blog that says "and there was this girl in brown leather boots dancing in the polling place...". The wait didn't bother me. I can not ever remember having to wait long to cast my ballot and having to do so yesterday, at least to me, meant that people were doing what they should have been doing all along. Perhaps, now, they realize that it does, indeed, take not just a village, but a country.
I stayed up late to watch the election returns, even though it meant I'd be seriously sleep deprived today, and I am happy I did. I thought McCain was incredibly gracious in his concession speech, and, for what it's worth, I felt connected to it and like it was heartfelt. Maybe it's because I know each of us, presumably John McCain included, looks around our country right now and realizes there is work to be done and that the only way to get there is to move forward.
As it turns out, we elected my president last night. The thing is, I didn't really know he was my president and that I'd embrace him as such until his acceptance speech which, actually, moved me to tears. It wasn't so much what he said, though what he said was quietly strong and optimistic without being over the top, and I admired that. Instead, it was what he stands for and the hope that he brings to so many people in need of a glimmer. I'm not naive enough to believe that the fate of the world lies on the shoulders of one man, but I do believe that the sea will shift and, eventually, the tide will turn, because the people will demand it... and he will have to be an agent of change.
I was also struck by the language with which he is comfortable. He said gay in that speech and he damn skippy didn't mean happy. I don't believe there's ever been a president elect in history to use the kind of language in an acceptance speech Obama used last night. As he continued on and reached out to the American people, I sat up and took notice and began to connect with a man for whom, up until that point, I'd really had a rather neutral attitude.
His election brought communities together. There was dancing in the streets of my town... a town where MLK was a preacher, a town with strong roots in the Civil Rights movement and a town with racial struggles. He filled hearts with hope on many different levels. It is undeniably a moment in history that anyone old enough to appreciate it will remember forever. In my lifetime, thus far, there are two defining historical moments: 9-11-2001 and 11-4-2008.
And so it goes... we have a new president elect. He will be the president... but it appears that he will also be my president.