Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A landslide victory

Well, it's been one week since our vote rocked this country, and pushed it onto a new and hopeful path to change. Although I was not able to vote (alas, I am not a US citizen), I insisted on going to the polling station with my husband to watch American Democracy in action, and was stirred by such a feeling of excitement that I was present, and witness to, the most important election of our times. The small village firehouse in Warwick, a rather non-descript place was a scurry of activity, with members of our community out in force, helping the day run smoothly (as far as I know there were no voting fiasco's to be had). There was a definite air of this being a momentous day, that history was about to be made. The voting machines in Warwick appear to have been in use for many many decades, huge hulking things surrounded by curtains that open and close on the command of a enormous lever that the voter pulls right then left, marking the beginning and end of the ritual. There appeared to be no electronics or any paper involved in the process, just the matter of pushing a couple of markers down depending on your preference and hoping that that was enough for your vote to be registered. 

The only other time I have experienced an election day was 1st May 1997 in Sheffield, England. I was studying for my final year of a Fine Art degree, and I remember it as a hot and very busy spring as I prepared for my final degree show. This was the first time I was eligible to vote, and I remember quite an excitement about it, but still it didn't seem to have the grandeur, mystique,and general hallaballoo of a US election.  There just wasn't the buzz! The polling station was the village primary school. There were no machines, just a few private booth with pencils and the paper ballot to be ticked off as you wished. Simple! As it turned out, that general election was to be rather historical too, because on that day, a young Tony Blair was elected into government, winning in a landslide victory against the Conservative Party who'd been in power for decades. 

Early evening, after having avoided the television and radio news all day, we sat down together to watch the results start coming in, nervous now after feeling such certainty that Barrack Obama, our man, wouldn't get it, and in those very early stages, it was all looking slightly worrying. And then one by one, starting with the entire northeast, states on the TV maps of the country turned blue. With each one we whooped with joy, hopeful now that the country had spoken loud and clear, and finally at 11 o'clock we shed a few tears of joy when it was confirmed that our next president was going to be intelligent, compassionate, wise, and have integrity for a change....and black. Change we need, and a momentous day indeed!

(Incidently, and somewhat ironically, I found out a few days later that the town of Warwick voted for John McCain, and more of the same......it's hard to fathom, as I didn't know anyone who didn't want change.......still, there's no accountin' for folks).

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