Rumor has it that I ranked very high on Google Blog Search for my McCain Wins post so I’ve decided to milk this for a little while longer until no one remembers that there was an election anyway. Although, given the response to the win last night, I sincerely hope no one forgets this election, because I think that energy and the passion of the electorate are what makes it significant. (Not including people who just love coffee and other free stuff–see above.)
Of course, Obama is going to face challenges. It wasn’t something I wanted to bring up to the roaring revelers on the streets of Park Slope last night, but a lot of my worries related to this campaign have been that people see Obama as a fix-it-all solution. But the fact is, I don’t think anyone does, and that’s why I was so struck by the atmosphere last night. Because admist everything that is violently wrong, a bunch of New Yorker took time to take joy-in a politician. As everyone around me shrieked and celebrated, I could feel myself taking pause. It occured to me that perhaps the most signficant change was the startling absence of violent, smug negativity.
Sure. There have been times when I’ve thought Obama supporters were desperately, and disadvantageously, naive. But last night, as cars honked on 5th avenue and men sang in the streets and even a police man let his siren ring once in celebration, I was reminded of the first presidential election I knew of.
I was 5, and some girls at school asked me who I liked for president. (I said Michael Jackson, because although I had never heard a Michael Jackson song, I had heard he was cool, and wanted to be liked. Some things never change.) As it turned out, my choices were George Bush and Michael Dukakis. I went home and asked my father who we wanted to be president.
“Well,” he said. “We don’t want either of them. But we’re going to vote for the one we hate the least.” I never forgot this response, and I think it colored my perception of what it means to be American for the next 21 years. But last night, I recognized that I, and everyone else, had made a proud, voluntary, hopeful, curious and uncompromised choice. We all know, and Obama knows that there are unfathomable challenges ahead.
The difference this time is that there appears to be citizenship (nevermind a president) legitimately interested in facing them.