Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Few Words About Last Night

It was Jon Stewart who told me, of all people. I had been flipping between ABC, CNN and the Comedy Network all night [I blame Lady Trail, I was content to avoid it], with CNN's realtime results map on the laptop screen positioned on the couch armrest. I was too paranoid and distrustful of the numbers to believe them, convinced that it would be closer than it was.

So when Stewart told me at 11.00 that Obama was the next president of the United States, I was stunned. Seeing that he had 297 electoral votes on CNN's website didn't convince me. It wasn't until McCain came out to concede that it hit me. The guy actually won.

I know there are people in my life who expect me to gloat. To cheer. To rub it in. But my values don't lean to the gloating side. I may feel a certain sense of satisfaction at the results, it has nothing to do with the man who won.

I like Obama. A lot, no question. But I didn't want him to win because I thought he was the messiah. Truthfully, I expect more than a few heartbreaking disappointments from his presidency. I don't know how he could not. But I wanted him to win because I needed to continue to believe 'our way works.'

In a campaign that went from civilized to sleazy in record speed, that saw John McCain attacking Obama for tenuous connections to criminals he barely met, and Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin [please exit stage right. Immediately] flippantly mock his professional history in front of a rabid crowd of thousands, I continued to admire how Obama kept his focus on the issues. The most frustrating thing about him this campaign was that he didn't attack McCain more ferociously. It's not like opportunities were in short supply [ie Rolling Stone's vicious takedown of everything McCain positioned himself as]. But Obama stayed on his talking points, refusing to enroll in the Karl Rove school of sleaze and smear that McCain was so compliant to be dragged into.

And I needed to believe that something resembling integrity could be rewarded in American politics. I know I'm not American, but come on, I'm from Windsor. We know better than anyone how the US sets the pace for the rest of the world, at least for a little while longer. I needed to believe that these people, who have given me authors and filmmakers and musicians and philosophers I respect so much, wouldn't fall for the same tricks again.

And they didn't. Instead, they elected the first Black President in American history. Even McCain, who gave the best and classiest speech of his campaign as he ended it, seemed relieved it was over. He really seemed like a man who's ambition got the better of him. I hope he can get back to the guy I liked in 2000.

While I do see the results as a refutation of George Bush's policies [seriously, how does he feel right now?], and a need for 'change', whatever that's really supposed to mean, I would like to believe it was also a statement from the American people that they are fed up and tired by politicians who smear their way into office.

I don't know about you, but there's something refreshing about a politician that people actually seem to give a shit about. I mean, I don't know about you, but I didn't see anybody crying when Bush got re-elected. Not supporters, anyway.


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