I was completely unable to focus on work yesterday. All the time, refreshing blogs, reading voting stories, worrying that, somehow, this was gonna get screwed up.
When they called Pennsylvania for Obama, a McCain win was nearly impossible. When they called Ohio for Obama, it was done. At that point, Obama could lose Virginia, Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, AND Nevada--and, short of all the Democratic ballots in Iowa, Minnesota, or the West Coast spontaneously combusting, still get to 270.
Of course, at that point all the news networks just talked about how a Republican has never won without Ohio, it's looking rather bad for McCain, blah blah blah. Only the friggin' mathematician was willing to actually call it. Of course, the media has an interest in making a race close, or appear to be close-it keeps people watching longer. Or maybe the news networks were charitably trying to encourage voting on the West Coast, so all the Californian Obama folks wouldn't go home and let Proposition 8 pass. (Unfortunately, it looks like it did anyway. California! What the hell is wrong with you?)
In any case, at that point I walked to the grocery store to buy a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, and some broccoli (don't ask) and updated the cashier on the results. As a young black dude, I figured he had about a 93% chance of being an Obama supporter. Yep. He was.
DC went nuts at the news, as you've probably heard. My roommate went downtown to join in and asked me and Nelson to join him. I almost wished I was still unemployed, so that I could have spent the night screaming and dancing and hugging random people in a fully historic fashion. But we didn't. Instead we sat in the exercise room of the condo building (we don't have a TV, and I was having a hard time getting the news outlets' online streams to work) and watched McCain's concession and Obama's acceptance over a glass of wine.
Last night in part of his speech, Obama reprised New Hampshire, and I was reminded of when I first saw him speak. I was at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place with Elaine, getting food before attending an acapella concert at USC. They had a tiny TV on the wall, tuned to Obama's speech after losing New Hampshire. When I say I "saw" Obama speak, I mean it literally. The TV's sound was off, so I didn't actually hear what he said that evening until later when I ran across the 'Yes We Can' video. But I just looked at him, addressing the crowd, and I knew--this is the next president of the United States of America.
Obama's right, that the struggle has just begun. The two most recent movies I've seen are An Inconvenient Truth (finally) and the short version of I.O.U.S.A. They're kind of frightening. This country has hella problems. They're gonna be challenging to fix. Right now there is no goddamn way the government can afford to support all the programs I wish it would, even if Obama supported all of them (he's significantly closer to the center than I am--still mad about FISA) and could get them passed (Democratic congress, yes, but many close victories and centrists there too). Our country is neither solvent nor sustainable at this juncture. But I think that Obama's the guy to tackle these things. He won't be able to fix things right away, or ever without grassroots commitment and support. But I trust him to talk to experts instead of industry hacks, to cross party lines, and to present some very interesting ideas. I can't wait to see what's to come.
Crossing my fingers: Bruce Schneier for Homeland Security chief and Lawrence Lessig for FCC head/IP czar, anyone?