space mountain or bust

Obama won. in case you haven’t heard.
Larry King is interviewing Magic Johnson, presumably because Magic’s a black guy. yes, Obama’s win is that big.

I voted Tuesday morning. only had to wait about ten minutes, then got an electronic voting machine. read the instructions. studied the ballot. made my choices.
bought the paper, and gave a bum a dollar, who said, “thanks, buddy. these are hard streets, especially when you’re sleeping outside.”
got some breakfast. read it through, entirely, drank a couple cups of coffee. then drove up to DC. my niece, it turns out, has bronchitis. she’s not doing so hot, and toddlers you can’t reason with. she has one truth: she feels like shit. and that’s all that matters. she’ll be alright, though. I know what I’m going to get her for Christmas. “Cinderella” on video. DVD, I mean. on DVD.

I watched the returns at Spencer’s apartment in Dupont Circle. McCain lead early, what with West Virginia and Kentucky getting called first, as opposed to Obama’s Vermont. Obama took Vermont, McCain took Kentucky, we said. shockers.
as the night wore on, more folks showed up. and the results rolled in. NJ for Obama. Maine. New Hampshire. Mass. all of New England. Pennsylvania. McCain put a lot of effort into that state, from what I understand, and Obama won it by ten points. and even Virginia. which, like Indiana, hadn’t backed a Democrat since 1964.
I don’t know if it’s obvious who I voted for, because for all of my writing and writing and writing, I’ve never actually declared it. I didn’t do the Nader thing, though I entertained the idea, and I feel vindicated. he suggested Obama might become an Uncle Tom to corporate interests tonight, again, and it seems like he’s deadset on moving into the “old coot” stage of his career. the system broke Ralph Nader long ago, so I cast my ballot for Obama, because, well, fuck it. it seemed like a good idea, and I’ve already mapped it out (that was the last post). but unlike Spencer and his roommate, I didn’t volunteer. and I wasn’t on board, not emotionally. not yet.
when they called Ohio, it was pretty clear where this was going. the mood brightened.

I started this blog four years ago, just before Bush’s reelection. on election night, I remember it started off well, and it went south quick. it was in desperation that I voted for John Kerry then. the man was a stick in the mud, the very image of rigid establishment. but I was 21, and couldn’t fathom that we’d put Bush back in for another term. and we did. and I wrote:

so the left got bitchslapped out of the government. okay. fine, fuck it. that means for the next four years, all of the problems Bush caused and Kerry wanted to inherit, they’re remaining Bush’s. so when the republicans piledrive the economy through the dance floor, and we’re still liberatin’ us some freedom over in Iraq (and god knows where else), it’ll be no one’s fault but their own. Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and other conservative talking heads will grow tumors trying to blame a crushing national debt and an ever-rising military death toll on liberalism.

that’s a little raw, a little all over the place, and I grimace whenever I reread anything a month old, but still, that’s prescience.
this time, though, I didn’t have to soul search. the guy I voted for, he actually fuckin’ won. this didn’t surprise me, but my growing reaction to the news did. I started cold. matter of fact. quiet, slightly pleased. but I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to be a dreary, cynical pessimist when you’re in a small room surrounded by genuine enthusiasm.
ABC called it for Obama about 15 minutes after California’s polls closed. I don’t know how soon it happened after that, but I realized the guy I was standing next to was bawling. really. he was crying.
later, I told this to my friend Rachana from work. I said, via tex message (how very modern): “I hugged a guy while he cried. really.” 
she asked, “Matt, are you crying?”
and I wasn’t, so I said, “no, I’m good. but I get it.”

the crying put me over the top. you can call me soft.
I patted the guy on the back, and, “come on, dude. turn that frown upside down. tonight’s a good night to be alive.” this is not to say I was politically reborn, but I started to get it.
what is It? It could be nothing. he could be an awful president, and if he is I’ll carry that grudge for years against him. but I can recognize the geniune feeling this campaign has raised in people. that, shit, even if it’s only temporary, there’s legitimate strength in optimism.
the party watched both McCain’s concession and Obama’s acceptance. McCain seemed relieved. he’s much more comfortable when he’s reassuring and calm than when he’s at a campaign rally, tripping over his lines, and painfully declaring “the Mac is back.” it seemed so beneath him, and I think it was. I say this now, though god knows what I’ve said in the past: it’s a fucking shame that McCain ran. there’s nothing more demeaning than being a presidential candidate, because you inevitably look and sound like an asshole, and half the country ends up despising you for your title alone. at the party last night, for instance, some guy called him a “fascist.” which isn’t true — that hipster probably couldn’t define fascism for a million dollars — but that’s beside the point.
a lot of people grew to hate him because of what he represented, and I don’t think the man deserves to be hated. I say this, knowing full well that if we were in bizarro world and McCain had actually won, I’d want blood.

Obama’s speech was soaring, as you would expect. and by this point, you could hear the streets outside. hear the car horns. the news was out. so I ended up with Spencer and his roommate, Krista, and Michael recently of Rhode Island in front of the White House at 12:30 with a couple of thousand other people, who milled and chanted and dance and sang. and at 2:00 am, I saw a spontaneous parade down 16th from U Street. at least a couple of hundred of people banging on pots and pans.
I honestly didn’t know this country had this in it, this delirious celebration. and it says something about the candidate that he could inspire such a reaction.

I’m not doing this justice, I know. I had huge plans for this. I was writing this in my head all fucking day at work, but I’ve got nothing now. this prose is painfully disjointed. it’s because I’m tired. but that’s okay. I’ll maybe be more eloquent later. now, just to finish …

after an epic battle to hail a cab, I got back to my brother’s place and crashed out. I woke up in the morning, and checked the results, just to see it again and make sure. Obama took Indiana late, and trailed the entire time, until they counted Lake County. which he won by 70,000 votes. 
here, I went flush and teared up. I don’t know why this got me going. pride, I guess. but it certainly makes you feel less impotent as a citizen when your state actually responds to your opinion for once. it only took the economy tanking to get me on the same wide page as everyone else, but it happened. and now I’m here.
President Obama. huh, no shit. he stomped McCain, just like I said. I said so. you read it here last week.


4 comments so far

  1. ashley on

    You told some guy to “turn his frown upside down?” haha…really though?

    Nicely written, actually. You didn’t lose it at the end. I’ve always liked your writing because you’re honest. You write as you think, and somehow, that’s endearing.

    I teared up too. It’s weird when you realize your were alive for a textbook moment. It’s surreal.

  2. matt on

    ‘frown upside down’ seemed pertinent at the time.

    and you like my writing? hawww, you just saying that cause I’m pretty.

  3. MJ on

    Matt, this was GREAT. 4 years later, watching the somewhat watered-down sequel play out, I felt it all over again: the hope, the optimism, the validation… Those things that have faded away now that I have been brought at least slightly closer to earth.

  4. […] there were the primary-debate-liveblog moments, the waxing-poetic-after-the-liberal-victory moments, there were the capture-yourself-getting-progressively-drunker-during-a-midterm moments. for […]

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