I was supposed to be working on stuff for one of my masters classes last night, but I'm not sure I can say that I'm proud of my productivity. I got a bit of reading done, but no actual assignments completed for my efforts. Instead I ended up getting distracted by the incoming election results. I have to admit that I'd had butterflies in my stomach for two days now. It's a little weird. On a rational level I know that Obama is just another politician and doesn't deserve the enthusiasm I have for him. I'm not afraid of McCain in the slightest. He's fairly far to the right on economic topics (something I think would cause more harm than good at this juncture), but he is a very moderate Republican on social issues. (Sarah Palin is an entirely different story, but more on that later.) Unfortunately, the butterflies aren't controlled by that rational, slightly cynical part of my brain. The hippy-dippy la-la-land side of the brain holds those puppet strings.
I'm not a huge fan of Jesse Jackson. I think he often puts his own PR and celebrity above all else, but I think those tears that fell as he watched Obama speak last night were sincere and kind of sum up the more symbolic aspect of Obama's win. I couldn't imagine what it was like for a man who grew up in the time of Jim Crow laws and saw Martin Luther King, Jr. die because he dreamed of equality for all races to be able to stand there in that park in Chicago watching the man who will be our first black president make his victory speech. I always thought my grandfather's life of watching transportation to go from horses to moon landings was amazing. I think the cultural shift that has happened in the space of Jackson's adult life may actually be more impressive. Things still aren't perfect and they probably never will be, but it's a little hard to argue that Obama's election doesn't say something good about how we've changed as a country.
But that isn't the biggest reason that Obama's win is important. There are actually two much more fundamental reasons and they both revolve around me. It was a little over four years ago that I looked up from my computer screen in the newspaper room where I was working part time to watch Obama give his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The TV was on mute, but I still got a feeling about this guy. I actually said out loud that this was going to be our first black president. You can ignore the fact that I never would have thought that it would have been his time so soon, but the important part is that I called it when he was still a nobody just starting to become a somebody. Suck on that all you professional pundits!
The other reason this election was important was because it was the first time I had ever voted for the winning presidential candidate. Sure my vote was irrelevant. McCain won Georgia easily so my vote held no benefit for Obama, but my guy still won the race. Apparently the American democratic process works after all (because it obviously didn't when my guys always lost).
The next couple of days will be me detoxing my system of political commentary. Tomorrow will be my presidential predictions for the campaigns yet to be and Thursday will be an open letter to Obama. After that, unless Bush really starts pissing me off (beyond what Mickey wrote about earlier this week in an excellent post), I'll be sticking to football, hockey, and navel-gazing.
Oh, and what exactly was CNN thinking with the Star Wars-style hologram. They did it twice that I noticed. Once with the reporter and again with one of the Black Eyed Peas. It was just weird and added nothing of importance. At least Slate made it funny.