Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My election night.

At first we went to one bar in Rice Village - and there was a somber mood and some trivia. The waitress switched the televisions to Fox News, and we decided to move onto another bar across the street. Using the presence of some black people as our guides, we stayed to watch the final results of the election.

The television with CNN competed against a Rockets game . . . and as half of the bar cheered when the Rockets evened out the score against the Celtics, all of a sudden there were whoops from the other side of the bar - Virginia goes to Obama . . . seconds later . . . CNN runs the banner - Obama as President Elect! Cheers erupted! A rush of blood and adrenaline flooded into my head, and everyone leapt to their feet, cheering. But, this being Houston, a few very vocal guys in dress clothes started yelling "Where's my welfare check?" "Spread the beer!" "Socialism!"

After McCain's fittingly honorable concession speech, we left, preferring to hear Obama's remarks at home rather than with the angry and moderately drunk McCain-ites.

To me, the most lasting image was the sight of the thousands (hundreds of thousands) of people gathered at Grant Park. It speaks to a renewed kind of patriotism, a coming-out-of-the-closet for many Americans who have felt the need to change the channel when the President comes on television to speak. It also represented an urban president, facing the skyline of Chicago, a crowd representative of the diversity of the city, the country, the world. The lines in his speech about America's genius - its ability to change and to move - is right out of any American historian's book. David Brooks suggested that this event will be the opening of a new chapter in future U.S. history textbooks, and I think that might be one of my favorite lines of the night. Obama will face challenges, he will disappoint us, he won't be able to make everything right, but the optimism, excitement, and motivation he has brought to politics, to government, and to the idea of service is inspiring and, I think (I hope!) will last beyond this particular moment of historical import.

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