I woke up the morning of the first Wednesday in November, 1960, to find my parents had slept on the hide-a-bed in the living room, in front of our only TV. They were awake before me, still waiting for the results of the JFK-Nixon presidential election. That taught me early -- I was five -- that these things matter.
Since then I've learned that it's not just what happens, but how it happens. This morning, we wake up with not just the taste of victory in our mouths, but the taste of hard-earned victory. Tears of joy are mixed with tears of exhaustion. After years of hoping justice would fall into our laps, this country got up off its collective ass and went after it.
Like Tom, I wish my parents had lived to see this day, not only to see a black president elected, but to see Americans rise up and answer the call to service like they and many others did after that famous march in Selma, Alabama.
I spent the last few days organizing the election-day sign-holders at our three town polling places for all the (Democratic) campaigns. It wasn't the most important thing that got done, but it freed up other folks working on the local and national campaigns to concentrate on the nuts-and-bolts work of organizing the GOTV phone calls, poll watchers, etc. On Sunday, I was in Loudon, New Hampshire (New England's version of NASCAR country), going door-to-door for the Democratic ticket. Yet my effort was nothing compared to the work some of you and the people around us have put into this day.
People not only from Massachusetts, but from California, Chicago, and every corner of the country came to New Hampshire -- the state where John McCain revived his primary campaign, if you'll remember -- to relentlessly knock on doors and make phone calls, and they've been doing this for the last few months. New Hampshire went for Obama by a ten-point margin, and Democrat Janine Shaheen took the Senate seat by almost 8 percentage points.
I'm disappointed about Prop. 8, which we'd been tracking here as well. But considering for a moment those things I could directly influence, and on a strictly personal level, this election provided a watershed moment in the story that began that Wednesday morning in 1960:
For the first time in my life, every mark I made on the ballot came up a winner.
This includes all the candidates for office from president to state senator (full disclosure: My congressman and state rep ran unopposed) and all three state ballot initiatives; all went the way I voted. There was even a candidate I helped that I couldn't vote for -- a Democratic state rep candidate whose district includes part of my town, but not the part I live in -- whose victory I could savor with the others.
It doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, on a day when the entire country has experienced an historic moment and has great, new possibilities before it.
But for me as a voter, it's been a long time coming, and damn, it feels good.