Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I am the least political person in my family. My sister is a political operative. My mom, quite the activist in her day, virtually ran the McGovern campaign in her county during college and, along with my dad, door-knocked for Obama in southwest Virginia. As of 4:30 this afternoon, he was still out going door-to-door in Virginia. I’m interested—I just can’t watch CNN and MSNBC ad nauseum every day.

But four years ago, I watched a young U.S. senatorial candidate speak at the Democratic National Convention. His was a voice that stood out from the others, a voice that spoke with vision and clarity of a fresh start for our country and the world, a future beyond war and partisanship and insularity.

When that man runs for president, I will vote for him, I thought. But I never dreamed that this day would come so soon.

Over these many months, some said that race would prevent his election, that the demons of our nation’s not-so-distant past would resurface, however briefly, and that this country would not elect a black man for its highest office.

During this year’s convention, a commentator asked Luke Russert what it meant to the younger generation to see a black candidate for president. He replied, essentially, that it was much less of an issue for younger voters, who grew up without the baggage of Jim Crow and the civil rights era. Though certainly not perfect, ours is a much more colorblind generation. That statement resonated with me, though I obviously recognized and appreciated the historic significance of this unlikely candidacy.

Today was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to “go and vote” in a general election. In 2004, I voted by absentee ballot—not quite the same—for John Kerry. The difference today, though, aside from the “I VOTED” sticker that I’m still wearing, was that instead of voting against George Bush, I voted for someone.

I spent the last few weeks trying to manage expectations, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I watched the returns tonight, coloring in my map as projections were called and hardly daring to believe what I was seeing. Breaking News: Barack Obama Elected President.

I have never been prouder of my country than I am tonight. I haven’t been able to say that in a while, and it’s a pretty incredible feeling.

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