11/05/2008

The other side

I will cause much pain with this, yet another political post on this momentous day. It will be sufficiently less melodious and movingly written than most of the others because I have run myself into oblivion tonight and I might just be clinically half dead. I'm not quite sure, but suppose I will know the truth if I wake up tomorrow morning and I'm still alive.

I can confidently say, for the first time in years that I am proud to be an American. I spent much of my evening yesterday being moderately tearful watching the millions of people turning up to vote. My daughter, less impressed by this massive display of civic duty, chose to spend her time putting some of my jewelry into small bags and boxes. In, out, in, out. For an hour. Between moments of slight weeping, I was made to pile on the bling my a very demanding toddler screaming, "No Mummy, you wear it!" It must have been quite a sight - my tear-stained face, mountains of jewelry, and the barking of orders by Tiny Dictator. We know how to celebrate election night here!

I couldn't bear to stay up and watch the results as they came in. We're 5 hours ahead of the East Coast, and I have enough trouble not being a complete bitch in the morning when I get plenty of sleep. The Dude and I huddled around the TV first thing this morning, holding our breath as I hit the power button. My relief was significant, and ever since that time this morning I have been trying to come to grips with the enormity of this event. I have been watching videos all day of the elation and sense of potential which has overtaken not just the USA, but millions of people all over the world.

This is the reason I thought my post-election post would be a bit different to some others. As you likely know, I have lived in the UK for 6 1/2 years. I have never been a great patriot, overwhelmed by the country's conservatism, its appeasement of the religious right, and the close-mindedness that so many of its residents so blatantly display. I know these things won't change for a long time, but with the election of Obama, I at least see that there may be a chance.

At my university, both students and academic members of staff have wanted to talk politics. Upon spotting my "Pennsylvania for Obama" sign a Spanish student said yesterday, "The whole world wants Obama to win I think." Today, when buying a newspaper to commemorate the occasion, the cashier asked me if I was happy that he won. This is without knowing that I was American, proving the level of interest in this election is high, much as the bloody British keep moaning about it getting far too much coverage. The cashier beside her was a Ghanaian student I know, and he grinned and said, "I'm so happy! All of my friends are so happy too!" England - America - Ghana, united in the belief that this is the beginning of a new era.

I am still wandering around in a haze of disbelief. I'm proud of my country for making such a radical and amazing decision which will hopefully change the way the US is perceived internationally. Previous residents of the White House were not concerned with such trifling matters, and the country's residents suffered mightily.

The tears begin again thinking how amazing it is that kids whose grandparents couldn't even legally marry a person outside their own race until the 1960s can now sit with those grandparents in January and watch as a black man is made President of the United States.

I have just watched the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert coverage which only aired here tonight, and commenced with the obligatory election-related crying when Stewart and Colbert teared up announcing that Obama had won. This, an election for god's sake, has brought so many people to tears and outpourings of unadulterated joy, the notion of which is just unbelievable to me. It's inspiring, and if only for a little while so much of the world senses that we are on the cusp of something amazingly transformative.

India:



Nairobi:


Indonesia:



Paris:



It is a beautiful day.

19 comments:

Jen said...

Damn you for posting those pictures and making me cry...AGAIN! I have been a weepy mess since last night. :)

Thanks for giving the international perspective. It warms my heart.

Aunt Becky said...

TOTALLY cried last night. Nearly started to drink while waiting for the results.

So fucking proud to be an American now.

Let's just go ahead and quote some South Park:

"America, FUCK YEAH."

Miz S said...

I KNOW! GOD! I cannot begin to describe how I am feeling. Thanks for the thoughts from abroad and for the pictures. I cry every time I look at people around the world celebrating with us/for us.

elizasmom said...

I'm coming at this from the other side: I was born in Belgium (of German and Belgian parents) and am a naturalized citizen of the US, and let me tell you it has gotten REALLY OLD answering to my relatives for my country's poor decision-making these last 8 years.

I was reading another international blogger who was rejoicing in the US election results and who was fielding criticism from US commenters saying it was none of her business, and I shouldn't be amazed that people think that, because really, isn't that exactly why we ended up with Bush — people thinking they didn't have to answer to answer else for their actions. Anyway, I think that the old saw about great power and great responsibility is true and that the rest of the world is absolutely right in feeling like it has a dog in this fight, and absolutely right to congratulate us for making the right choice.

Sizzle said...

It's so fantastic to feel this support across the globe. That our votes helped change the world. Because I truly believe we are the path to something good, something better. I have hope!

Kath said...

I feel exactly the same way, dear Pru. And those pictures say so much. Yesterday, on TV here, they kept showing people dancing in the streets in Kenya -- and today is a national holiday there, in Obama's honor. Wow.

Please forgive me for not commenting on your father's situation -- I tried to click through and the comment section just didn't load. And then I vowed to send you an e-mail... and life intervened. If it's not too little, too late, I just wanted to let you know that I am so sad and sorry about what you and your family is going through. Having all that love, anger, resentment, pity, fear and vexation all knotted together must be so hard to bear.

Thalia said...

um, excuse me. Bloody Brits? I haven't seen one complaint and there's been extensive coverage every night.

Ah well, we're all glad he won.

Major Bedhead said...

"a haze of disbelief"

Yeah, that's pretty much me, too, interspersed with periods of joyful weeping and this strange feeling of elation. I've never felt this good about an election result before and it's kind of scary, to be honest. Thrilling and exciting, but a bit scary.

Beautiful Mess said...

What amazing pictures! It's so awesome, amazing, fantastic that this election brought so many together. I can't wait to see what the future holds for our country and the whole world. Thanks for this post, it was beautiful.
Enjoy your day!
-D

The Boisterous Butterfly said...

80% of the Dutch people would have voted for Barack Obama if they could have, You can imagine how happy we are here. Now I hope we can all be realistic about this human being and what he actually can do. Let's give him a fair chance.

DrSpouse said...

How about an "It's a Beautiful Day" theme for next Monday's music?

(U2, Lou Reed, Eels - I'm sure there are more...)

DrSpouse said...

PS, do share how you managed to "follow" my blog even though I didn't have the widget up yet??

Gwen said...

Oh, I loved those pictures, especially of my sort of homeland, Indonesia.

It was a beautiful day. Let's hope it's the start of a beautiful relationship.

WonderMama said...

This post made me cry AGAIN.

I'm finally proud to be an American again, for the first time in awhile.


YES WE DID!!!!

Kristi said...

It was such a fantastic night (morning), wasn't it? And those pictures say it all. Maybe the world will finally like the U.S. again.

Clover said...

That picture from India is very cool- I hadn't seen that one yet. I am so happy too, I can't quite believe that it happened.

fisher queen said...

Love those pictures! I wish you could have stayed up to see his acceptance speech. He is everything a president should be. Especially now. I am thrilled.

PS the bear spent his day proclaiming "do obaba" (translates to go obama) to anyone who would listen.

nutsinmay said...

Hurrah for America! I stayed up late to watch the results, being a bloody Brit who actually wanted more coverage, more more more. And I cried. And met my American colleaues at work next morning and we all had another little happy cry.

millie said...

I thought I was done crying about this but clearly I was wrong.

It is such a great thing for our country and for the world.