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.
It is a beautiful day.