(this will be my only post for today. jokes, offbeat observations, poems, and other items can wait until later. if it seems disjointed, it's because i wanted to post many things about the election that i had kept aside until now.
(for the record, althought the time stamp on this post is 5:20 a.m., it took about eight hours, off and on between other projects, to put it into the form you see here.)
in the september 13, 2004 issue of the new yorker, hendrick hertzberg wrote:
when barack obama spoke at the democratic convention in boston, a lot of people thought -- and hoped -- that they were seeing the future. half kansan and half kenyan, half black and half white, yet all-american in a novel and exhilarating way that seemed to transcend the usual categories, obama, who on november 2nd will be elected to the united states senate from illinois, embodied and expressed a fresh synthesis of the american civic religion -- one that fused not only black and white, and immigrant and native-born, but also self-reliance and social solidarity. "he represents the future of the (democratic) party," stephanie cutter, the communications director for john kerry's campaign, said by way of explanation why obama had been chosen to deliver the keynote speech. and it is not hard to imagine circumstances under which, a decade or two hence, he might represent the future of the country as well.
well, that decade or two came yesterday, when obama was elected to become the fortyfourth president of the united states.
as of this afternoon, obama had 62,605,000plus votes, or 52 percent of the popular vote. more importantly, he had 349 electoral votes. john mccain, on the other hand, had 55,512,000plus votes, or 46 percent of the popular vote and 147 electoral votes.
the most amazing thing i saw yesterday was the the eyes of many black people. those eyes were wet with tears.
some of them were among the multitudes gathered at grant park in chicago, minutes after the announcement came that obama had been elected.
some of them had very good reasons to cry. i was reminded of some of them after i read this story on the web. they were things i never had to suffer because i'm white, so i plead ignorance -- with a willingness to learn. i knew the generalities, but not the specifics.
i also saw this quote attributed to richard belzer, the actor on law and order: special victims unit, and ascerbic and brilliant-at-times comic: every black kid in america has grown an inch taller.
at 11 p.m. tuesday, after the polls in the west coast had closed, i was watching wrtv, the abc affiliate for indianapolis, when charles gibson projected that obama would be the next president.
at that time, his electoral vote count was 207; california, oregon and washington state gave him 73 more. that put the total at 280 electoral votes -- and 270 were needed for a win.
but it was all over around 10:20 p.m., when it was announced that ohio had chosen obama. from then on, mccain would need a miracle to win.
during the evening, indiana was still too close to call. that was a big difference in past years, when the republican candidate was announced as the winner about an hour after the polls closed. but this time, obama got 50 percent of the vote in indiana to 49 percent for john mccain, and that victory was only by 23,000 votes.
yesterday, i wrote that mccain would take the state. that shows how much i know.
obama's election is one big change in direction-- the biggest since ronald reagan was elected in 1980. don't take this as just my word. i cite this story.
i can't say specifically why people voted for him or against mccain. to do that, i would need the ability to read minds. that's one power i don't have.
but this is an educated guess: people wanted the united states to go in a different direction than the one it now travels.
(nice legacy there, george w. bush. and you too, dick cheney. it would be nice to think those two men won't sleep soundly for the rest of their lives because of the ills, intended or not, they and their associates in this administration put on this country. but i bet those two will sleep soundly, although there are no reasons why they should do so.)
according to reports, 64.1 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in the race. that's the highest percentage since 1908, when 65.7 percent of the eligible voters chose william howard taft over william jennings bryan. and remember: back then, women and most blacks in this country, especially those living in the south, couldn't vote.
the percentage was also higher than the 63.8 percent who voted in 1960, when john f. kennedy defeated richard nixon.
for the record, about 136.6 million people voted. that's out of a population of about 300 million, give or take 10 million illegal aliens.
i believe the big turnout happened because, as i said before, people wanted a change in direction for this country.
also, since the results of the last two presidential elections were close and stained with allegations of voter fraud, people wanted to make sure that the candidates they wanted to be president would be elected without question.
and it could have been a possible rejection of the last two presidents, who were baby boomers, and their failures in office: bill clinton because he wasn't as good as president as he could've been; and bush, who probably did the best that he could. and that's a freightening thought.
last saturday, i spent two and a half hours in line to vote. if you want to read the details, click here.
some of my relatives are in their 80s older ones and not in the best of health. but they didn't have to wait long on tuesday. they went right in and voted, and i'm thankful for that.
i watched obama's victory speech. oh, that man is one smooth speaker -- comforting the audience and rallying it at the same time with a great baritone voice. he's not like bush, who comes across as a braindamanged fool -- another reason why i'm thankful i didn't do the heavy drugs or drinking when i was younger.
as for his wife, michelle -- well, this will be the most stylish president and first lady in the white house since jack and jackie kennedy. i was a mere gradeschool student when it was camelot time and vaguely remember his administration, although i remember the glamor around them.
and, when you think of it, obama is a black yuppie -- or buppie, if you will. change his race to white and his name to barry banner and you have the same man.
so many people have put their hopes and desires for change upon obama. so -- good luck, mr. president. i wish you the best and hope like hell you don't fuck up like jimmy carter or bush.
i also hope you accomplish a lot more than kennedy, who didn't push that much for civil rights and was a little too much of a warmonger for my taste. accomplishments were left to lyndon johnson, who i respect much more than jfk. he pushed the civil rights act of 1964 through congress.
(note: some historians say that kennedy didn't get a lot done through congress because many of the senators who served with him thought he was a lightweight and didn't apply himself seriously to his duties in the senate, concentrating more on running for president. johnson, who was senate majority leader before he became vice president, was very influential in getting the civil rights act passed.)
i also think that kennedy, although he was assassinated, was lucky. if he had been saddled with vietnam and all its controversities, would all the hopes projected upon him have turned into anger and a sense of betrayal over his conduct of the war?
one wag emailed this comment to me after last night's results:
just imagine -- there'll be a black man in the white house -- and he won't be a valet.
just imagine -- there'll be a black man in the oval office -- and he won't be a custodian.
yeah, imagine that.
you may say i'm a dreamer, but i'm not the only one. i hope some day you join us, and the world will be as one.
one last word, though -- this is the first time in my life that the president is younger that i am. for that, i paraphrase j. alfred prufrock:
i feel old. i feel old. shall i wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled?