Wednesday, November 5, 2008

No, We Haven't Yet

I and, sadly, most or all of us have experienced loss. There's an immediate impact of deep sadness and then for a while after that wears off, you have intermediate periods. You may be going about your regular business when you're overcome by grief. It could be that you hear or see something that reminds you and sets something off. It could just be a random attack. Anybody who has experienced this knows what I'm talking about.

Right now, I feel the exact opposite.

When 11:00 EST hit last night and California's 55 electoral votes propelled then-Senator Obama over the 270-vote threshold, I was dumbstruck. Silent and emotional as I watched the celebration in various places throughout the country. It had actually happened. The joy in the room was palpable. But today was even more emotional, in ways. Little things set me off. A co-worker who told me two months ago that Obama would never win, but then came around, gave me a hug. I watched video of Colin Powell tearing up. Someone, just in conversation, used the term "President-Elect". At one point, I was just sitting in my car and almost teared up for no reason. I was in Prince William County in three of the last four days. I spent as much time working for Barack on Tuesday as I got sleep on Monday and Tuesday nights combined. Surely, there are thousands of people who worked much harder than I did, but the point is that we did this. It's an amazing feeling.

You can see the elation and the sense of accomplishment all over the place. People talked excitedly today about every aspect of their experience voting and watching the returns. Maybe -- probably -- this feeling will wear off, but I feel like some remnant will be with us forever. Even Facebook was rife with status updates about Obama and hope for our country. Almost all of it was great to read.

We've heard a lot of ugly stuff in the past few weeks of the campaign leading into Election Day. One thing pisses me off more than anything else. I could shrug off "palling around with terrorists." I could brush that "socialist" garbage right off my shoulders. What kills me is something I saw a number of Obama supporters post.

"Yes, we did!"

Way to miss the boat! That statement implies that everything we've been working towards culminated in our victory last night. In reality, last night was the end of the beginning. The only thing that Obama's election accomplished on night one was instant repair of America's reputation abroad. The spread of hope throughout the world, which you can read about in any number of articles on-line today. This is what I referred to when I discussed my "Kasparov Test". Aside from that impact, which admittedly is a huge one, nothing else from the last eight years changed. Nothing.

If you think anything ended last night, you don't get it. "Yes, we can" was not the answer to a question about winning an election. The question is about enacting real change and bringing America out of the darkness. It's why "Yes, we can" was a continuing theme in the acceptance speech. Nothing is over or close to over yet. Doesn't mean we can't celebrate, just means we need to be ready to keep going at 12:01 PM on January 20.

Until then? I'll let that joy wash over me one more time.

President Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. God damn, that sounds good.

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