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This Is What Democracy Looks Like
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Election Night 2008
My Election-Day Hangover
There are two kinds of hangovers which I've had the displeasure of experiencing in my life. The first is the kind which wipes out my memory, then creates more pain as those memories come back. The second hangover is the kind whose pain reminds me of the previous night and puts a smile on my face.
My eight year, increasingly painful hangover (the first kind) is subsiding and is being replaced by the one which puts a smile on my face. I just hope the pain stays as exquisite tomorrow as it is today.
I was off from work yesterday - election day - and spent the day watching the various talking heads do their thing. For most of the day, I toggled between MSNBC and CNN with an occasional, temporary jaunt to Fox News Channel, still the enemy of anyone who truly craves "fair and balanced". I, like everyone else who watched daytime election day TV, was looking for any signs of what might be going on during the time that all polls were still open.
They don't report on any results until most of the polls in a particular state closes. So I watched... and I watched... and I watched.
The first polls to close, or at least close in enough Eastern time zone precincts to begin reporting, were in Indiana and Kentucky. Indiana was too close to call (as it would be until the wee hours of today, the morning of November 5th). Everyone, however, called Kentucky right away.
And the winner of Kentucky's eight electoral college votes is... Senator John McCain.
Okay... that was expected. It was bad news, of course, for Bruce Lunsford, the Democratic candidate facing off against the US Senate's Republican Party minority leader Mitch McConnell. It didn't end well for Lunsford as he lost by six points - 53-47 percent.
Right after the Kentucky announcement the various talking heads told me that the next three electoral college votes went to... Senator Barack Obama.
As of now, at its worst, this wouldn't be a shut out.
At 7:30PM, I decided to drive over to New Brunswick where the Frank Lautenberg party was taking place. The Senior-then-Junior-then-Senior-Again Senator from New Jersey was announced the winner of his re-election bid over Republican Dick Zimmer almost in perfect synchronization with the Jersey polls' closing. The Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick, NJ, where the celebration was taking place, was taking on partisans like a rowboat with a giant hole takes on water.
It was a sight to see and I couldn't wait to get out of there, but I stayed and waited for a couple of friends to arrive. A little after 8:00PM, as I continued waiting, the announcement came that most of the states whose poll's closed on that hour were ready to be called. New Jersey for Obama, Massachusetts for Obama; Maryland for Obama; Delaware for Obama; three of the four delegates from Maine to Obama (later the last Maine delegate was also awarded to Obama); Illinois to Obama; and Oklahoma to McCain. Everything was happening as predicted, except... Florida and Pennsylvania weren't announced and I began to sweat. We are, after all, Democrats and have proven our ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory time and time again.
So I went home to watch the rest of the returns in my big chair. (I don't care much for crowds.) I turned on PBS, then CNN, then MSNBC, then the broadcast channels and I waited.. and waited... and waited some more.
It was then that the flood-gates opened up and the flood now known as the 2008 presidential election opened up. Before I knew it, Pennsylvania and Ohio were announced for Senator Obama. Ohio came first and quickly after their closing time (as compared to 2004 where, even today, some ballots haven't been counted).
At this point I wasn't listening for states McCain was declared as the winner of. I listened for the name Obama and heard it time and time again. New York, Michigan, Rhode Island and Colorado - yes, Colorado - were pronounced as Blue States.
Hurdle after hurdle was being scaled and completed as the talking heads were looking for available avenues and paths which McCain could still take to get to the White House. They appeared to close even as the talking heads were showing their pathways.
As 11:00PM edged closer, Senator Obama held a 207 to 149 electoral college lead. With California and their fifty-five electoral college votes were coming up, along with Oregon, Washington State and Hawaii, his first home state, coming up.
At 11:03PM, Eastern Time, it was over. The final tally had Senator Obama winning the electoral college by more than a 2-to-1 count while the popular vote went to him big time as well. Obama won more than 53 percent while McCain gained just under 43 percent.
In the end, Senator Barack Obama, the calmest man I had ever seen, won the day by a count of 349 to 163 electoral college votes. Although Missouri and North Carolina haven't yet been announced even one day later, their votes would only be icing on the cake.
Along with Democratic gains in the House of Representatives and the US Senate, my hangover feels good today. Let's hope it stays that way as the real work begins.... today.
What Senator Jon Corzine Said in 2005
I met Jon Corzine on January 20, 2005, at a "counter-Inauguration Day"
party at McAteer's in Somerset, NJ.
It was a pretty depressing day, with Bush being inaugurated for his second term. Bob Kerrey was supposed to be the guest speaker, but he couldn't make it. Corzine had taken the train up from Washington to fill in for Kerrey.
Noah Greenberg, Mike Costello and I got to speak briefly with Corzine before the event started; he was very friendly. He was still Senator and just getting ready to launch his gubernatorial run.
Corzine gave a short but energetic and enthusiastic speech that night.
At the end of his speech, Corzine said this:
"2005 is going to be a great year for Democrats, 2006 is going to be a great year for Democrats, and in 2008, we're going to change the world."
And guess what - he was right!
A New Day, A New Vision, A New President
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2008 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.
Today, November 5, marks the beginning of a new era in America and American politics.
That's true in every election in America–our republic has always moved forward after every election no matter how divided the nation. We move on without violence, without martial law, without the government taking control of the citizenry. We have a smooth transition from one Administration to the next. We are, first and foremost, a democracy.
Every election day brings with it a new era, but that was never more true than today.
America has crossed an enormous divide–cultural, political, social–with the election of Barack Obama. That can’t be overstated.
Nearly half of American voters–47 percent and over 53 million people–did not support Barack Obama for president. Even among those of us who did vote for him, many still might have questions about how he will perform as president. Nevertheless, Americans can all agree that the last eight years have made this country a worse place for the majority of Americans and that George Bush has badly damaged our standing in the world.
Both candidates for president promised change. With his election, Barack Obama has already brought a large measure of it just by virtue of who he is.
In his concession speech last night, John McCain was gracious and clearly in awe of the historic and momentous occasion all Americans were experiencing. McCain pledged to support and work with President-elect Obama and asked his supporters to do the same. In doing so, he proved himself to be the man who Obama would later say he was--a man who puts service to country first, last, always. And in doing so he closed the door on yesterday’s America of division and any division his party had fostered during the campaign.
In his acceptance speech, Barack Obama was sober and measured. There was very little joy in his manner--instead what we saw was his clear acknowledgment of the task ahead of him and how monumental and awesome a task that would be.
But in the final minutes of his speech Obama spoke about the 106 year old African- American woman in Atlanta who voted for him and who had seen more changes in America than any of us. A woman who had lived through both blacks and women being unable to vote. A woman who had lived just long enough to see Americans cross one of our biggest divides.
This was perhaps the most poignant of all the incredibly moving points in an extraordinary evening that all of us who witnessed it will remember throughout our lifetimes.
Many things made this election day monumental, but none so much as this: Barack Obama, son of a white mother and an African immigrant father, was elected not by black Americans, but by all Americans. Members of every group in this nation---racial, ethnic, religious, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, class--voted for Obama.
At many points in our history we have broken ranks as a nation, sometimes for good, sometimes, as during the Civil War, for ill. Yesterday we broke ranks for history, we broke ranks for change, we broke ranks for promise and yes, we broke ranks for that elusive ideal of hope. We turned our backs on the darkest aspects of American history and said, resoundingly, no more.
As Obama led a classic black gospel call and response at the end of his speech to which the crowd of several hundred thousand in Chicago’s Grant Park and many more thousands watching on their televisions replied “yes we can,” those of us willing and able to embrace the change this election brought saw a subtle yet tectonic shift in American consciousness.
That shift said simply but irrevocably: Yes we can look beyond race, yes we can look beyond origins, yes we can become a stronger, better, more cohesive nation, yes we can denounce the fears engendered by our history, yes we can do what Americans do best: Move forward, rather than look backward.
Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin repeatedly said that looking backward was a mistake and that we needed to look forward into the future. She was, in part, correct: We must look forward if we are to be a forward-looking nation. But we can never move forward without looking at the problems of the past so as not to repeat them in the future. Those who ignore history are in peril, condemned to repeat its mistakes.
As we move forward, there is an awesome task ahead for those of us who consider ourselves progressives as well as those who consider ourselves conservatives. It's unlikely that any of us will get even a small portion of the things Obama promised during the election process–that’s not how politics works. To get any of those promises fulfilled, we will all need to work hard--our work is just beginning on that score. Yet if Obama meant what he said last night–and I believe he did–then he will expect us to hold him accountable.
But no matter what happens during the next four years, we have already received an extraordinary gift from yesterday's election. We have seen a glimmer of the America that as a child I heard Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ask for: a nation in which we look forward beyond race and class and origin to an America that is the melting pot we all were taught, proudly, that it was as we grew up.
Are there still strong social, cultural and racial divides in America a day after America elected a centrist Democratic president who is half white and half African? Yes, there are. But his election mitigates a great deal of that division for all the reasons stated above.
Some people say yesterday was a referendum on George Bush’s disastrous and failed presidency, a presidency second only in its damage to that of James Buchanan which lead us directly into Civil War.
Pundits argue that no Republican could have won and John McCain got closer than anyone could have expected.
That’s all true, of course–particularly the disastrous nature of the past eight years. But it is also true that Barack Obama over-road fears and judgements to win in an electoral landslide and that must not be discounted.
Did white voters vote for him out of white liberal guilt? No doubt many did. But sometimes that’s how change is made–because we feel bad about how things are. Apologies, however late they might me, never hurt. And the apology for America’s racist past was long overdue.
There is a big job ahead of America, but most of us are equal to that job–we proved that with this election. Those who aren’t able will get our help, because at our best, that is what Americans do: We make things better, we help others, we strive and ultimately, we succeed.
Barack Obama has promised to bring back the best in America. By voting for him and the future, we have already begun to bring out the best in ourselves. And that means today is a remarkable day in what is still the greatest democracy in the world.
response to Madman's pre-election night prediction map, Eddie Konczal writes:
This is incredible, I think you were almost 100% correct!
Even a blind squirrel occasionally gets a nut... Thanks! -NG
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