I showed up at my local polling place at 7:00 am yesterday morning. I voted, got my free cup of coffee from Starbucks, did a few hours of work, then proceeded to bite my fingernails as I watched election results come in. Happily, the national election was decided quickly; as I’d guessed, the local measures are taking a little longer to certify.
I am disappointed in California for voting against families, but I am unsurprised. There is a lot of hate, misinformation, and convoluted logic surrounding Prop 8, and it’s all on an issue that is emotional at heart and therefore impossible to argue. I take heart in two things. First, the prop will pass with a far slimmer margin than its older sibling did in 2000, therefore things are moving in the right direction. Second, California has domestic partnership laws that grant all rights of marriage that are within the state’s power to grant. (The federal Defense of Marriage act blocks the rest, and would have done regardless of Prop 8′s outcome.) While “separate but equal” is still wrong, it’s pretty darn equal in this case, and more equal in California than in other states. (J’accuse, Arkansas.) It’s shameful that such a “liberal and tolerant” state voted this way, but it’s not the end of the world.
I am proud of America for electing Obama. Regardless of what happens in his administration, he proved the American dream of equality of opportunity is reality and not merely a yet-to-be-fulfilled promise. I am proud of Obama for focusing on the work ahead and not resting on his laurels, and I acknowledge that racism in America still exists today as much as it did yesterday and the day before. But it is significant that yesterday morning it was possible for anyone but a white guy to become President, but today it is reality.
I am excited about electing a President who ran on a platform of being smart, capable, thoughtful, and articulate, not one of “Hey, I’m a nice guy and I’m just like you stupid people.” I am amused that even cries of “Socialist!” could not prevent Obama from being elected. I am pleased that I got to vote for a candidate and not merely against another, and I am elated that it was possible to run an honourable campaign that enjoyed success. That’s change. It’s good change.
It’s clear that there will be changes, and there is a great deal of information on what those changes might be. I’m looking forward to see how those changes are implemented, and what else lies ahead.