Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Day

Last night for me was yesterday morning in the U.S - November 4, 2008. I emailed a friend at 6:30pm which was 5am in Washington and told him I was nervous… I feel badly about that now – lack of faith. We exchanged a few emails that morning/night and he seemed to think Obama had it in the bag. The returns wouldn’t start coming in until the next morning for me so I went to bed and was wide awake today at 6am; computer was on, numbers were reported for Kentucky and Vermont – I checked in with my friend in Washington and he was seeing the same results at the same time, and commented that it truly is a small world. At about 7am, there was a power failure at the house and I was without internet for about 20 minutes; by the time I was back on-line, Obama had a substantial lead and I emailed my friend: “LOOK AT THE SCORE!” (I seemed to have mistaken the election for the Superbowl, but whatever). By 9:30am I was in the grand ballroom of the Colombo Hilton at an election-watch party given by the U.S. embassy, I’d say it was one-third ex-pat Americans, the rest Sri Lankans – several hundred people. When at about 10am here CNN finally called it, a huge cheer went up in the room and I couldn’t quite believe it. In fact I didn’t believe it because CNN was “projecting,” and only a small percentage of the precincts had reported numbers; it seemed premature to me. Until John McCain came on and gave his concession speech. Then I looked over at Rachel who was next to me and just said “oh my god!” And then I said it again. That’s when I finally believed it.

I’ll admit that I never though Obama had a lock on this, and I certainly never dreamed it would be a fucking LANDSLIDE!! But 349 to 162 [so far]? and 7 million more popular votes? Clearly I didn’t give the voting public enough credit. My brother made the comment at lunch today, “he couldn’t have done it without the white-redneck vote, so good for them!” And I have to agree. He wasn’t elected wholly by “his” people. People, perhaps millions of people, disregarded their baser instincts and decided to take a shot; they looked past… whatever they had to look past, and voted for change. They bought the message, they bought the hope, they bought they hype, they bought the promise, and for a lot of those people, they finally, and perhaps reluctantly, bought the idea that it didn’t matter that he didn’t look like them. And now I hope we can all stop talking about the fact that he is a black man and get to the business at hand – because at some point that’s got to stop mattering. At some point I hope we stop reinforcing the enormity of that one point, because if America is what he said it was in was in his acceptance speech, it never should have mattered in the first place.

"It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America."
In the history of presidential elections in “the United States of America,” has any winning candidate ever mentioned gay people in a victory speech? That was a beautiful thing and it was a great speech.

I still have a few more months left on my trip here, but I was shopping around for flights back to Seattle in February today, and I have to say, I was excited by the prospect of returning. I think it was a great day for America and I’m looking forward to getting back home.

P.S. We had a little informal balloting process at the Hilton this morning. The final count, delivered by the ambassador, was Obama: 281 - McCain: 32.

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