|“And although it seems heaven-sent
We ain’t ready to see a black president”
– Tupac Shakur, “Changes”
In his 1998 hit single “Changes,” Tupac Shakur stated that he didn’t believe America was ready to elect a black president. Ten years later, the results are in and Barack Obama has made history becoming the first African-American president (not named David Palmer) in United States history – a victory he won in a landslide.
I’m really glad that 2Pac was able to live to see this moment come to fruition and I imagine he was watching the coverage last night with a smile on his face from inside his secret bunker on his remote private island.
Depending on your political beliefs, last night’s victory for Obama signifies either the start of an evil Socialist regime lead by a Muslim sleeper cell terrorist or the dawning of a new day – one where the economy is thriving, everyone has health care and we no longer are dependent on foreign oil. Instead, we all ride to work on magical unicorns and our homes are powered by rainbows and positive thoughts.
And while Democrats and Republicans may see Obama’s victory in different lights, I don’t think anyone can really question the fact that last night’s election was a historic one, and not just because an African-American won. In addition to that noteworthy fact, last night we also wrapped up the longest presidential race in history, one that started two years ago. While you would think that after two years of campaigning the American public would be tired of this election, the turnout yesterday was amazing; people are more passionate about politics than they have been in a very long time.
On a personal level, this election was significant for a few reasons as well. Both my fiancée and my brother voted for the first time (he never registered before because he said he didn’t want to be eligible for the draft, which makes absolutely no sense). And while I am no stranger to voting, I had my own first – I gave my first donation to a presidential candidate this year (because lord knows Obama’s campaign would have been practically broke without my $25 donation).
I was so passionate about this year’s election that I actually woke up at 7 a.m. to vote (and, if you know me, you know there aren’t many things in life that will motivate me to get out of bed and into a pair of pants at 7 a.m.). My fiancée and I walked together to our polling place, which already had a line that wrapped around the building. While standing in line, someone driving by in a car shouted “Terrorist!” and a few minutes later someone on a bicycle shouted “Obama!” (feel free to draw your own conclusions about the fact that the Obama supporter was on a bike and the McCain fearmonger was in a car).
The voting process itself was uneventful. The polling place didn’t have booths with curtains, instead we were sent to little cubicles to fill out our ballots. I didn’t even get to use one of those fancy, rigged electronic voting machines. Instead, I filled in little bubbles on an old-school Scantron ballot. And when I turned in my ballot, I didn’t even get an “I Voted” sticker for my troubles, which meant I spent the whole day feeling as naked as a politician without a flag pin.
While the voting process itself was decidedly low tech, there was still a palpable energy to the proceedings. When I was a kid, my mom would always take me with her when she voted, so I’ve seen my share of elections over the years and I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like this year’s. The amount of people who were not only in line at 7 a.m., but were actually passionate about it, was really amazing to see. It probably sounds really dorky to say this, but I do feel like we witnessed history yesterday.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if the legacy of George W. Bush ended up being that he fucked things up so badly for eight years that he made people care about politics again?
Speaking of W, unless he’s got some pretty amazing tricks up his sleeve that he’s been saving for the final two months of his term (like capturing Bin Laden, winning the war in Iraq or waiving a magic wand to solve the current economic crisis), it’s pretty clear that President Obama (wow, it feels good to type that) will have a tough road ahead of him.
I have no way of seeing into the future. I can’t tell you what type of president Barack Obama will be. All I can tell you is that after watching him speak last night and after listening to the people cheering out on the street outside my apartment as if the Celtics had won another championship, for the first time in a long time, I’m filled with hope about the future of this country. And as Andy Dufresne wrote in his letter to Red: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
So whether you voted for the guy or not, Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States and, with a little luck, we can start getting this country back on track. So please, Republicans and Democrats, let’s all take down our lawn signs and bumper stickers and move on with our lives. After two long years, the election is finally over. The results are in. And the guy who will be entering the White House in January has promised to bring change.
Let’s all hope he keeps that promise because, as a wise man once said, “It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes. Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live and let’s change the way we treat each other.”
That’s the way it is.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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