Columns, Opinion

SONI: Nov. 4, 2008: Judgment Day

On Tuesday, I woke up like any other day. The sun was shining, and the air was still. I showered, got dressed, and skated to my 11 o’clock class with Ice Cube’s ‘Today Was a Good Day’ playing in my ears. Yes, I thought, today will be a good day.

But despite the good vibrations coming from Mother Earth, I still felt a dark cloud looming over me and a slight queasiness in my stomach. As I was sitting in class listening to a lecture about art in the Middle Ages, I couldn’t help but think that the fate of the free world was hanging in the balance.

I couldn’t get my mind off the election, but I couldn’t formulate my thoughts in any constructive manner. Would the ‘Bradley Effect’ play a big role? Would John McCain steal a bunch of the Florida ballots? Would I be clutching a bottle of Jack and hugging the toilet by the time the votes were counted? I had no way of knowing. I just wanted to get it over with.

I lay in my bed for about a half hour thinking about nothing in particular. Then I mustered up the energy to play my last intramural soccer game. We lost 7-4, and I took the defeat as a metaphysical swing of fate. I began biting my nails.

Later that night, we invited a few of our close friends over for a ‘Blue Party.’ Everyone had to wear a blue item of clothing and the only thing available to drink was Pabst Blue Ribbon. We sat and drank anxiously, cheering and toasting every time Obama won a state and cringing whenever McCain won one.

I went to take a leak, and as I was draining myself I heard a loud cheer come from the living room. I dashed out without washing my hands or flushing the toilet, my fly still unzipped with one hand holding up my pants.

‘He won! He won!’ a friend of mine yelled. ‘He got the 270 votes for the Electoral College!’ A smile came across my face and there was a warm feeling in my chest.

I remember reading an article in Rolling Stone last December when Obama was battling Hillary Clinton during the primaries. The writer commented on a speech Obama had made days earlier. He claimed that Obama was something else, not a normal politician, but someone who the American people could invest their trust in without feeling cheated. At the time, I was still firmly grounded in my opinion that this nation was not ready to elect a black man.

Then I got to thinking; it was exactly my type of pessimism that was getting in the way of America voting for an African American. If we all thought that Obama wasn’t going to make it because of his skin color, despite our political opinions of him, then he obviously wasn’t going to make it. A strong sense of hope struck me at that realization, but I still remained skeptical. I didn’t want to get burnt by the American dream once again.

The true scale and reality of the situation didn’t strike me until Obama stepped on stage to give his acceptance speech. ‘If there is anyone out there who still doubts America is a place where all things are possible,’ he said at midnight on Tuesday, ‘who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.’

When I saw Obama on stage at that point, I couldn’t help but think that I was witnessing something real, some personification of truth that is sorely lacking in politics. It is not just his master oratory, the way he carries himself or the promises he makes to a nation he so dearly loves. It is a combination of all. Maybe, just maybe, America has been blessed with a natural, a Pel’eacute; of politics who will forever redefine the game.

He converted me in one fell swoop from a skeptic naysayer to an optimist. And this election has, in essence, restored my faith in the goodness of humanity and the limitless possibilities of this land.

‘The road ahead will be long,’ he said Tuesday night, ‘Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America ‘- I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.’

Yes, the economy is crumbling and we are losing both wars in the Middle East, but for now let us bask in the glory of Nov. 4, 2008 and be proud to have witnessed and been a part of history.

‘I remember when I was making my way through college in the 60s,’ a professor told me yesterday, ‘I had a black roommate. The feeling we got when we walked into a town in the South or participated in a civil rights march. . . it was scary. Just think how far we’ve come in 45 years.’

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