Last week, I referenced the way six-year-old Red's heart broke when the Phillies lost the '83 World Series. Seven-year-old Red was super excited about "a girl" running for Vice President. Without even knowing who my parents were supporting (Mondale), I became a second-grade supporter of the Democratic ticket. I was crushed when they lost.
Twenty years later, frustrated by a president who "couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight", not to mention one with whom I disagreed about almost everything, I got a summer job working for a canvassing office that was under contract with the DNC. In retrospect, John Kerry was a bit of an empty shirt, but he was both more articulate than Bush and seemed a lot smarter. A president I could stand to watch on television seemed like a plus. Plus, I have an easier time trusting northerners. And I got about a third of the money I raised. So since I was highly motivated, bubbly, earnest and did my level best to look cute, I raised over $28k that summer. I got to keep about ten grand, so in addition to being a job I believed in (at the time; I later grew frustrated with the DNC using that strategy), I had a lucrative summer job, which was very beneficial in a year I was in grad school and living on loans.
I was sitting in a ballroom watching returns with my boss when it became clear that we had failed. Some of you probably know what it feels like to work really hard for something you really want and not get it: rotten. I actually burst into tears about half a dozen times before noon November 3, 2004.
EG recently asked me if I could ever see myself voting for a Republican. In the words of Harry Truman, "Never say never, 'cause that's a hell of a long time." Being a Democrat shouldn't be like being a Phillies fan (i.e. you stick with your team no matter what), but the odds that a Republican candidate will address the issues I care about and the Democratic candidate won't seem fairly slim.
I started out this election season pulling for Senator Clinton. I'd love to see a woman president, yes, but the junior senator from New York is not only very smart, she's one of the hardest working people in the Senate. But when that didn't happen, I got behind Obama. I was pleased with the campaign he ran, and while I didn't spend tons of time on it, I did do some volunteering for his campaign.
Last Tuesday night felt wonderful. I don't have TV in my house right now, so I was monitoring the returns on nytimes.com and NPR. I was on the phone with EG when they called the race for Obama; he has a working TV and he gave me the good news. 31-year-old Red and the little girl she used to be were both very happy.
I'm happy for so many reasons. For the most part, none of them are, "Yay, Blue team!" First, Obama is enormously bright and articulate, and that's a great place to start. I like that he came from humble beginnings and worked damn hard to get where he is. I like that, for the first time in at least sixteen years, we're going to have a class act occupying the Oval Office. I'm proud that we elected a man whose very election says to the world that we're done doing things Bush's way. And as my mom, an elementary school guidance counselor, pointed out, now you can say to any child that you can truly be anything you want, if you're willing to work hard enough. I've been content and grateful deep in my soul ever since Tuesday night. A new dawn is breaking in America.
I remember reading a column in the last few months that said Obama's supporters expectations for him are so high, he can't help disappointing them. Maybe so. But I'm hopeful. Almost no one gets everything they want to get done done, the economy isn't going to be magically better on January 20 and the challenges facing our president-elect are enormous. But I sure do like his attitude toward tackling them.