Some thoughts about the 2008 election and campaign:
Since being naturalized in 2002, this may have been the first election that I voted for someone, and not just against someone else.
I voted for Obama because he is someone who seeks the truth, believes in the power of education (formal or not) and chooses to see the best in people.
The fact that he's black is historic and exciting.
I think race was acknowledged but not the most important factor in this election; that is how I want this country to be, and that is the world I want my children to grow up in.
I'm looking forward to having parents of young children in the White House. I wonder what sorts of choices the Obamas will make about schools, for example. This helps reinforce my solipsistic bubble of parental anxiety.
Joe Biden will not run for president anymore. Looking to the future, I wonder if he would take a cabinet post in a second Obama administration and cede the Vice Presidency to a younger politician. Hillary Clinton is also probably too old to run for president again. This year is a generational shift away from the Baby Boom. The Clintons, Robert Rubin, Robert Reich, Madeleine Albright--they've all become "party elders."
(Speaking of Biden, when he said that there was a three letter word that needed attention in this economy, "JOBS, J-O-B-S," I'm disappointed not to have heard any commentators say, "Without Joe, it would just be B.S." I'm not sure what that means, but I think it's funny. Where's my spot on Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!?)
Although I'm disappointed that various discriminatory propositions were passed in various states (with California pending as of this writing), it's clear from the demographics of the vote that this is just temporary. Gay marriage will be legal in twenty years.
I hope that this election was empowering enough for young people and other new or lapsed voters that turnout continues to be high in the future.
It's sad that polling places were swamped because of a 65% turnout rate. What would have happened if 90% showed up?
I'm a little amazed that 55 million people voted for McCain. The Electoral Map looks blue, but there are still a lot of people to win over.
Obama's speech last night was perfect. He struck a great tone for the country, telling his supporters that this was just the beginning and a lot of hard work will follow, and telling McCain's supporters that he would continue to try to win them over. The sight of Jesse Jackson's tears really broke me up. The encapsulation of the last century through the story of one voter's life was terrific. Obama's face was so serious, but I got the sense that he was trying not to well up with tears at points (or crack up when he mentioned his daughters' new puppy).
I was interviewed by a Boston Globe reporter and gave a bland quote that the reporter reworked with judicious use of selective quotation.
McCain's speech last night was also excellent. If that had been the tone of his campaign, I think Obama would have still won, but McCain would have gotten a lot more votes.
At my polling place there were people with signs trying to make last minute pitches about candidates or ballot questions. "Dog lovers or pot smokers?" I asked them. Turns out they were taxpayers. The three questions here were all lopsided, 2:1 affairs: No on eliminating the state income tax ($70 million of advertising spent on opposing this), Yes on decriminalizing possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, and Yes on ending dog racing.
Obama won three states where I feel some pride: Massachusetts where I voted, New Hampshire where the family spent a couple of afternoons canvasssing for Obama and Shaheen (who won the Senate seat), and Pennsylvania where I encouraged my sister- and brother-in-law to write letters to their local newspapers.
Last year Austin said he wanted to be president when he grew up. I hugged him and told him he could. If he had said it two or three years ago, I still would have hugged him but I probably wouldn't have said anything.
This will be the first presidential election that my children will remember. I hope they remember that we paid attention to the news, that we were proud to say who we supported, that we volunteered our time and energy (and money) to help who we supported, that we didn't "hate" or disparage opposing candidates just because they were not our choice, and that voting is a civic duty and an act to be proud of.
I think Mari will remember that we hit the Obama office in Salem, NH two days after Halloween and there was a lot of candy on the food table.
Okay, President-elect Obama, you've got an electoral vote mandate. Yes we can feel the fierce urgency of now. I have two words for you: metric system.