Note: I wrote this the night of the election and it was printed in my university’s student newspaper a couple of days later. I just felt it belonged on my blog, so here it is. Obviously some things have changed, some for worse, some for better, but this was still a great day for me.
On Tuesday night, another historic milestone was reached. As a usually not-so-proud American, I was giddy with excitement when I filled out my absentee ballot a week earlier. I’d never voted before (Americans aren’t good about telling citizens abroad they have the right), but I can honestly say I wouldn’t have been as excited in the last election. Let’s face it, Kerry was okay, but not really approachable or accessible to all voting classes.
However this election has been by turns thrilling and disgusting, hilarious and sombre. I admit, at the beginning of the primary season, I was leaning toward John McCain. Even though he’s a Republican, he had a reputation for independence and didn’t always toe the party line. As the sheen wore off, I realised that ended back in the 1990s and I noticed with dismay how much more hard-line his positions had become.
I was never a huge Hillary supporter beyond the fact that she’s a woman, mostly because I detect a suspicious affinity for political expediency in her character and she’s far too establishment for my taste: too many skeletons in the closet, too many favours owed.
Enter Barack Obama. He’s articulate, well-educated, erudite; he understands how useless the establishment can be. He’s also black; well, it’s about damn time. But wait, he was endorsed by Oprah before he even decided to run. That right there made me think thrice about voting for him; is he just a token, or worse, a puppet?
That’s when I started paying closer attention to the primaries than I ever have (not enough to register to vote in them, I don’t declare party affiliation and was still leaning toward McCain at that point). On the Democrat side, I was stuck between the female token and the African-American one, until I started listening to their words, how they see the United States and envision its future. Hillary made a lot of “Shrub sucks!” comments, but Obama didn’t do much of that. Instead, he focused on the way forward for the nation as a whole.
As I started to realise this one might be the real deal, he got the nomination at the Democratic Convention; I celebrated with a small “yay!” in my living room. The campaign began and he continued to impress me. He obviously also impressed many other: not only did he raise the most money ever, he also raised it from the most people ever (we’re talking $20-100 increments, people). It started to get negative, as these things do, but nothing compared to previously.
Obama continued to focus on change, hope for the future and a way out of our current quagmire (not just wars, but social safety net and economic issues too). I was more impressed by the day (McCain’s choice of Palin also disgusted me, making Obama seem even more…better). Then the economy went to hell and things got right messy: it was clear that the McCain and Obama camps didn’t like each other much.
Still, in the end, I was proud to see record voter turn-out (projected at about 64 per cent), to cast my own ballot and to vote for Barack. And when he won I was, for once, proud to call myself an American. Will he be perfect? No. Will he be able to deliver everything he promised? Probably not. Will this nip that looming recession in the bud? Hell no!
But Obama seems to understand that torture is bad, no matter what. He knows that a social contract exists between the governed and the state which must be honoured by both parties, always. He grasps the concept of multilateralism and how essential it is in the changing world order. I believe this man will do his best to fix what he can and to return the nation to the foundations upon which it was built: All humans are created equal and are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
As Obama sums it up, “Hope”. That’s why I voted for him.