Wow. I'm still stunned. Sometimes you want something so bad, all you can think about is how crushed you'll be if you don't get it. And then you worry about spooking the karma gods, and you begin to think that the more you want something, the less likely it is that you'll get it. So it was that I was momentarily crestfallen when the very first returns came in and McCain had 7 or 8 electoral votes to Obama's 3. It wasn't too long before it became clear that if Obama could cherrypick a couple of those pesky middle of the country states, it would be clear sailing to the west coast and a certain victory. With Pennsylvania and Ohio in the bag, it truly was just a matter of time before California's 55 votes gave the Big O the Big V.
I figured I'd have to write about this, and yet I was emotionally drained from the whole campaign, and didn't know what to say. It's hard to write to a computer screen, especially when the computer screen doesn't often write back. But a dear friend can get you to talking, and that's what happened this evening. One of my bestest, closest, dearestest friends, Eric in San Francisco, wrote me a note and his thoughts inspired me to write a little something of my own back to him. Here's an excerpt of our email conversation.
I am sure you were able to appreciate the gravity of the moment and the incredible well-spring of hope that erupted. The faces of young people excited to be taking part, the faces of older black people crying as an event occurred that they never would have imagined possible.
And the man himself - sober and clear in victory - more somber than celebratory, reaching on both sides of the aisle - the hope of forging a new American identity. None of this would occurred with the McCain and Palin team - instead it would meant 4 more years of divisive ugliness.
Looking at the 250,000 people who assembled in Grant park and comparing them with the 2,000 who came together in Arizona - it was a striking snapshot of who the 2 parties represent and the future (I hope) of our country.
By 2050 - and maybe sooner - white people will be a minority here, the minorities together will be the majority. This could be the beginning of an exciting identity shift for our country at home and around the world.
Brother, this was sweet and I've been very emotional over it all. Not only did I cry in the moment, but at several times this morning hearing clips from the moment and from people who have waited their lifetimes and the lifetimes of several generations before for a moment when they could look at the highest peak of American achievement and see themselves represented. I got chills listening to Rep. John Lewis on ABC and CBS last night (I was less moved by Jesse's tears, as he was a bit of a dick to Obama during the campaign). I think there are three mountaintop events/eras in black American history: Emancipation/13th Amendment; March on Washington/Civil Rights Act; and last night. Jackie Robinson would be a 4th, but somehow less monumental than the others.
It's rare when you get to see history made - and really positive, meaningful history. 9/11 was history but that was a drag. The Patriots winning three Super Bowls in four years was history but that don't mean shit. This was a moment for standing tall, for realizing that as flawed as humanity is, it's the only construct in the universe that knows the concept of hope, that can generate it and be inspired by it, that when things are low they are merely at the ebb of a continuing cycle, and that it's the efforts of a committed and united humanity that can bring it high again. It's a beautiful thing, and I feel blessed to be living through it, and grateful that my children can see it and live in this world where anything is possible. And it's a good feeling when life is hard personally to know that each day is a new opportunity to make it a little better.
Peace, my brother. We have overcome the Bush years. We finally have a president elected not because of the color of his skin, but because of the content of his character.