On Wednesday night of this week, I came home to the boyfriend watching PBS News Hour loudly on the television. “Noooo mooore neeeewwwsss,” I whined, “I am soo sick of hearing about the damn election!” He was a little taken aback, especially because I normally love to discuss politics and current events.
It’s just that throughout that day I made the mistake of spending too much time on Facebook and Twitter, which meant having to hear some pretty ugly comments from Romney supporters. The hurtful comments about immigrants and people who receive government assistance were a little too much for me, coupled by plenty of idiotic remarks about the country spiraling into Socialism and the need to stock up on guns and ammo. Sigh.
So I want to back up a little to that night before, and remember why I was so happy when I woke up on Wednesday morning. That night the boyfriend, his cousin, and I gathered in the living room with pizza and wine to watch the drama unfold. None of us wanted to jinx it by even saying it, but we were all a little nervous about what the outcome would be. We masked our anxieties by over-analyzing every prediction and analysis made on tv, comparing different news coverages, laughing at Brian Williams’ snarky commentary,, and reading aloud witticisms from the internets. Anything to distract ourselves from admitting what was really at stake that evening.
And then it happened, just as we were all in the kitchen serving up pizza: NBC called Ohio, the last swing state that Obama needed to win in order to clench the election. We cheered, but with apprehension: was this going to be a repeat of 2000? It was still close; had they made this call too early? We flipped to Fox news and watched Karl Rove and the anchors in the midst of a full-blown meltdown and knew it had to be true.
Barak Obama would be the Commander in Chief for 4 more years.
In many ways, I think this election was more important than 4 years ago, at least to me. In 2008, coming out of the Bush era and hearing this idealistic black man talk about hope and change, it was easy to get on board. Of course people wanted change. Of course people were hopeful. The fact that we could be electing our first Black president made it even more cool, and things sucked so hard under Bush, that why not, right? We were going to make the country cool again.
But by 2012 there was so much pessimism, and with a nation so polarized that polls showed candidates neck in neck, I wondered about what it would say about us as a nation if Romney won. Not because I dislike Romney or what his party stands for (though I do), but because of what it would say about us as a culture. If 4 years ago we were swept up in a tide of optimism, with people chanting “yes we can!” only to completely change our minds 4 years later because change hadn’t come over night, what would that say about our patience? About our fortitude? About our desires, our work ethic, our courage, our innovative spirit, our acceptance of others, our willingness to adapt to change? Could Americans be so short sighted and focused on instant gratification that they would choose the status quo, the establishment, the rich white guy who “knows what is best for us” (gag)?
Fortunately, the answer was no. In 2012, the majority stood up to the fear and rhetoric and pessimism, and they said Yes. Yes we can, yes we will, yes we believe. The kind of change that politicians talk about won’t happen overnight, but that night, there was a change in the American landscape. And it makes me want to give all of America a big hug.