After teaching on Tuesday, I headed for my local Obama office and did get-out-the-vote canvassing for seven hours. Holy macaroni, my feet were yelling by the time the sun set over Berkley. In 2004, I spent election day coordinating phone banks, so I was indoors. This year, two words: The. Pavement. In addition to trying to convince people to vote their way, campaigns spend months gathering more and better information about voters. Then, on election day, that data gets put to use. We had lists of "likely Obama supporters" and "definite Obama supporters" and did anything we could to get them to the polls. Free rides. Reminders. Incessant knocking on doors. Hey, and I got a free t-shirt out of the deal. Things started to get surreal around 6:00, after the sun went down, and while walking the neighborhoods, you could look in windows and see EVERY television tuned to the news. Sean Hannity. Katie Couric. Those airbrushed faces projected onto the cool Autumn streets.
Polls closed at 8:00. Headed home, took a quick shower, had a quick sandwich, and Nicole and I went to a County Democrat party. Expensive cash bar, kind of boring and stuffy, too loud to hear the televisions. So we headed to a results-watching party in Berkley organized by a judicial candidate who we'd supported actively. His whole crew was there, along with lots of members of our town's democrat club. Clearly the better party. Plus, cheap beer and burgers. Woo-hoo. Several recounts of absebtee ballots resulted in a lot of nail-biting, but in the end, Jamie Wittenberg (a classmate of Nicole's) is our new district judge. Less nail-biting over President-Elect Obama. How good does it feel to type those words? We were all kind of freaking out, in a pensive and cautious way, when they called Pennsylvania so quickly. Then Ohio. Then Florida. As soons as west-coast polls closed, McCain gave his very gracious and thoroughly classy (and already malaligned as wimpy by Limbaugh et al) concession speech.
What's that line that Garrison Keilor always uses about doing good work? That's what kept running through my head, as I thought about the prospects of an optimistic, progressive, ethical leader for our country. Now do good work. And the rest of us: Hold Obama accountable. Hold the democrat-controlled legislature accountable. Insist they keep promises. Insist they maintain the integrity, the optimism, the reform, and the legislative agenda they've preached. Health care. Lower taxes for working and middle classes. Troop withdrawal. Better support for education at all levels. Anybody going to inauguration? At midnight on Tuesday night, I text-messaged by nephew at Georgetown and threatened to crash on his dorm floor if need be!