November 10, 2008

Can you believe what we just did!?

That was the last text I sent to my sister on Election Night last week as I was leaving Grant Park. Obviously I meant it in a good way, as if to say, "this is amazing!" And it truly was. I don't post about politics very often and everyone and their dog is bloviating on it nonstop, but having BEEN at Grant Park on Election Night and hearing PRESIDENT-elect Obama speak, I had to post my thoughts and pictures. I also want to preface this this the fact that I was essentially a republican when I got to law school. I went to see Sean Hannity, I listened to his radio show, I watched Bill O'Reilly and I couldn't get enough of Fox News. That has all since stopped.

A year ago I remember saying that there was NO WAY I would ever vote for Obama simply because of his lack of experience. At that time he was still in his first term as Senator and had only served in the Illinois state legislature. I felt this was NOT the credentials we need for the nation's highest office. Even during the summer I wasn't sure who I wanted to vote for (after Ron Paul was essentially eliminated). It was the "Reverend Wright" speech that really made me think. I didn't see it live, or even that same week, but when I did see in on CSPAN I remember thinking that this guy really has his act together. I certainly hadn't decided at that point to vote for him, but it started to seem more plausible.

I was sorta rooting for Mitt Romney in the Republican race (I guess it was a hometown thing) but I didn't really plan on voting for him. I truly was a swing voter. But hearing Obama speak, and having to compare him to McCain, the choice not only became clearer, but imperative. My view of McCain was that of the "old way" of doing things, he was the dial-up internet candidate, the standard definition TV candidate, the VHS candidate. Whether it was sincere or not, Obama sold me (and millions of others) on the idea that he is not part of the old guard. He is not a Washington insider and isn't beholden to the same lobbyist-run government. McCain, to me, just seemed widly out of touch with people like me.

Then came the economic meltdown. I don't blame any person or party for this, it was a combination of many factors. But the responses to it from both candidates was very telling. McCain wanted to give MORE tax cuts to the top of the top income bracket whereas Obama wanted to cut taxes for 95% of the working class. Don't get me wrong, I am aware that the rich pay the majority of the taxes, but the fact that they can AFFORD to makes it easier for me to swallow. That certainly isn't a reason to simply raise taxes, but this quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes sums up how I feel about it, "taxes are what we pay for a civilized society." I'm OK with paying a larger share (especially because it means I'm making more!) if it means that there is more police protection, more programs for getting the homeless off the streets, and nicer and safer parks and open areas.

I became very pro-Obama after the debates. I imagined a worldwide summit and I pictured who I would want to represent the USA, it was Obama by leaps and bounds. The "America as an imperial force" attitude was embarassing at this point, I wanted an "America as a force for peace" attitude. I don't believe that America can be the leader by example with McCain as President, just as it hasn't under Bush (whom I voted for both times).

So when I got my ticket for the Grant Park party (at 2 PM on Election Day) I felt legitimately excited to be a part of history. Now I know that that sounds cliche, but it really is the truth. America was about to elect not only a black man, but a man who had the vision and ability to get America out of this political rut of picking the lesser of 2 evils. The writing was on the wall for Obama, he had leads in states that hadn't voted Democrat in 40 years like Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina (sadly, not Utah). It was like a tidal wave, slowly building momentum then finally overtaking the whole country, it was a true mandate and electoral blowout.

So here are the best of my pictures. It was pandemonium but it was amazing, historic, and unforgettable.


Denise said...

I am so happy to have been apart of this as my first election!!! Obama inspires me to stay informed and to take action. Also, I'm excited to become a friend, rather than a foe with the rest of the world. anyone who promotes more world peace is a candidate for me. the rest of the world loves him! hell, kenya even took a national holiday the day after he was elected!! :)

I'm so excited you got to be there jef! thanks for getting me in to politics! when i become the first female president i will totally make you one of my advisors. hopefully i'm running against sarah palin. :)

Ems said...

aw man, I'm so excited that you were there. fantastic jef, fantastic.

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