The sun came out this morning after pouring yesterday and I found it fitting.
I woke up this morning, early, for the first time in a week, to get in early, to skip lunch, to leave early, to buy Obama/Biden buttons from the SF street vendor outside the BART, to vote, to get food and to go to Katie’s election night gathering.
And you have to understand something when it comes to hanging out with Katie and Erin — they are a witty, fast, talkative pair. To be certain, their friends (many of whom I met for the first time) are likewise fun girls.
I played bartender, pizza was ordered, and a good, loud time was being had by all, until the polls closed in California
And MSNBC called the election for Obama.
I hope never to forget it. We looked at the screen like, “what?” — we didn’t know what to think. We checked Fox News, figuring that if they agreed, it had to be true.
The room was dead silent.
And we waited. A few snarky comments here and there, as McCain conceded, and waited. We were shocked; we couldn’t quite believe it. And as Obama gave his victory speech, becoming President-Elect, we collectively teared up.
No, that’s not a point of shame, it’s a point of pride.
For every election since I’ve considered myself politically aware, I have not known what it feels like to believe in my country. Every time, I get hopeful. Every time, my hopes are dashed. Prop 22, a precursor to tonight’s Prop 8, I think, was that first election; when I believed in something and felt it was wrong.
An interesting fact about me: I have never once said the Pledge of Allegiance under the Bush administration. Nor have I saluted the flag during the national anthem; I stand in respect for the latter but refuse to recite or salute. For 8 years, for a large portion of my life, ever since I was 14, I have held the firm belief that my government did not represent me. When I marched for peace on February 15, 2003, my government called me a ‘focus group’, and went to war anyway. When I voted for Kerry in 2004, my country, to my chagrin, decided on four more years of corruption and lies. I have felt my civil liberties corroded. I cried in frustration the first time I had to deal with airport security after 9/11; that my bags could be searched without warrant or cause, that I had no right to protest; it seemed that every last right I had as an American citizen was hampered, taken away, or simply ignored.
Except the right to vote.
(And let it be known that’s no cakewalk either — officially, today, I voted provisionally because my polling place moved)
And as I sat there, watching Obama give his victory speech, the tears I felt were hopeful. Which is a weird feeling to those who have never felt it. No, things aren’t perfect. No, I don’t expect Obama to fix everything with some wave of a magic wand. But I feel, for the first time, his first hundred days are going to be my hundred days. That government that I have chosen is coming to be.
That is empowerment. That is why Obama carried young voters in a landslide.
And after the tears, cheers and disbelief was over; after the cheap champagne had been poured and the party began anew, for tonight, our government worked.
As I drove home, both Telegraph and Shattuck were filled with people celebrating. I hear the City is even more crazy — Twitter tells me of spontaneous celebration filling the streets. Scott Beale (@laughingsquid) summarizes it best: “San Francisco is erupting with spontaneous patriotism”
San Francisco and the Bay Area has always been patriotic. We’re crazy, but contrary to the Bush administration, we’re not terrorists. Or communists. Or godless atheists. Or hippies. Or homosexuals. Or Asians. We are all and none of these. We are Americans.
After Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009, I will again say the Pledge of Allegiance. I will again salute the flag.
My country, tis of thee.