04 November, 2008

Today's the Day

It's election day in the U.S. Lines are very long and hope is high within both camps. If you are a registered voter in the U.S. and you read this, please, please, be sure to vote. As long as you're in line, you have the right to cast your ballot, even if it's time for the polls to close. The estimate yesterday is that half the registered voters in Florida voted early and the numbers are high in other states.

Eighty-eight years ago, I wouldn't have been able to vote. That's not all that long ago.
I always remember that, somewhat viscerally, on election days. I also remember that less that 150 years ago, African-Americans and citizens of color were guaranteed the right to vote by the 15th Amendment to the U.S. constitution. In reality it to the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s to truly begin securing that right. Violence has been mostly replaced by dirty tricks, though violence remains. Do not think for a moment that this country is post-racial. Even in my own family, I have one relative who referred to Sen. Obama as "the black" and another who screamed "You mean you would vote for a Muslim!?" at an Obama-voting relative. Both have said if Sen. Obama wins or loses African-Americans will riot in the streets. Fear is a multi-faceted and powerful thing. However, my grandmother in Mississippi, in her 90s, is voting for Sen. Obama, which is undeniably remarkable.

If you wonder why so many of us are hopeful about Sen. Obama, read this. To all you fearful folks worried about violent African-Americans and Obama supporters, read this.

I don't cry at movies, but I still love Frank Capra's films. They help me from being completely cynical and pessimistic. So, I am not ashamed to say that watching Sen. Obama and his wife cast their ballots in Chicago this morning, their daughters at their side, I teared up.

I remember standing in a field at Georgia Tech, not long after Sen. Obama announced his candidacy, listening to him re-ignite the hopes of thousands. I remember the giddy smiles on the crowd at the conclusion of the speech. I remember turning to a young woman in hijab next to me, giggling and agreeing with her that all of us in the crowd were now totally amped up to get out and do something, to take that hope and responsibility he talked about forth and put it into action. I also remember the friends I went to the rally with lamenting that he would undoubtedly lose to Sen. Clinton in the primaries. I stand by what I said before this campaign even began: this country is more ready to elect a man of color than a woman. That doesn't excuse the faults of the Clinton campaign or take anything away from the remarkable campaign run by Obama. I truly do not think most people thought we would see this day.

Certainly, I refuse to say this is over until it is signed and certified. I'm from Palm Beach County. I still have nightmares about going to bed with Al Gore and waking up with W. Now that most of the conservative pundits, even the ones who until yesterday were trumpeting Sen. McCain's potential paths to a "Dewey Defeats Truman" moment, are admitting that it looks to be going Sen. Obama's way, I feel a little better. But, to quote Yogi Berra, "It ain't over 'til it's over."


No comments: