I voted last week, so I’m not taking part in the long lines today. (Although Tim reported that he was in and out in three minutes at our polling place in Oak Park.) Part of me wishes that I was part in the excitement today, but never mind. It’s still exciting.
I was thinking this morning about why this campaign has felt so different. I think Barack Obama changed the rules. Not only the obvious rule about not electing a black president, but the rule about how you run for president. The old fundraising rule was that you got 10,000 rich people to donate $10,000 each. Obama made a new rule, which is that you ask millions of people to donate $5, or $50, or $100, whatever they can give. And then you also ask them to volunteer whatever time they can give. And in so doing, you build on the excitement you’re creating with your message.
In the past week, my brother and sister have each told me that they contributed to Obama’s campaign (and my sister is also volunteering at the phone bank in Pittsburgh today. ) I don’t know how much they gave – it’s not important. But my guess is that they don’t regularly contribute to political campaigns. See, we don’t come from a family that talked about politics. Dad made it clear that he voted straight Republican and no one else talked about it. (Mom always insisted that it was her right and responsibility to keep it to herself, and we kids knew what that really meant.) Earlier this year, Mom refused to vote in the Pennsylvania primary, because as a registered Republican, she could only vote in the Republican primary, and she said she wasn’t voting until she could vote for Obama. You go, Mom.
I feel sorry for John McCain. He’s not perfect, but he’s a good man, doing the best he can. He’s wanted to be president for a long time, and this is his last chance. I can’t imagine how it feels to pour your whole self into a campaign like this and then lose. But others have come through it, and he will too.
I’m grateful to be an American, today and every day (It’s on my gratitude list “hit parade”). It’s not perfect, but how could it be, given that it’s made up of 300 million imperfect people. We all do the best we can. Despite it’s problems, I’d still rather live here than anywhere. I’m also proud to be an adopted Chicagoan, as the crowds start to gather a few blocks from my office for tonight’s celebration.
I feel hopeful that things will get better. Maybe they won’t, but it’s worth a shot. (Note to self: don’t make more than $250k a year, or you’re pretty much screwed.)
It isn’t a holiday, but it sure feels like one. Happy Election Day, everyone.