Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Observations

Yesterday I ran a precinct polling place, as I do every election. My precinct since 2002 is comprised entirely of University students, so I have an intimate view of that segment of the electorate. Yesterday's turnout shattered all records for the precinct, and by noon I knew that Obama would win based on that turnout. Simply put, the 'youth vote' has long been the holy grail for Democrats, and Obama succeeded in motivating the college students at a level that John Kerry failed to achieve. Observing the enthusiasm amongst these young people was a cause for optimism that I haven't felt in quite a while. As an election official, I'm completely impartial on election day, and only concerned with conducting a fair and legal election. But I'm not blind. I see who's voting and what their attitude is as they vote. Yesterday, the difference was palpable.
How much of a change Obama means for America remains to be seen. But the attitude of my younger voters was a clear signal that there is a change in the political energy that may be felt for years to come.
At least I hope so.
I admit, I'm a cynical old goat. For all that I like about Barack becoming our president, I'm still skeptical about how much he'll actually be able to accomplish. The poor bastard is inheriting one hell of a mess, and the republicans aren't going to go quietly into oblivion as a result of this defeat (though I really wish they would.) The challenges ahead for Obama and America may be among the greatest in our history, and a president only has control of a fraction of the unfolding of events. In short, this thing may be too broken for even a great president to fix.
But there is that small piece of optimism, that glimmering of 'hope' that I haven't felt in a long while. Maybe, just maybe, this country is turning in the right direction. Maybe we can create a better future. Maybe those young people that I saw voting can lead to dynamic new possibilities.
If nothing else, it should be a lot more interesting to watch than the ongoing disaster of the last eight years.


Mauigirl said...

I have never witnessed such excitement about an election result as I saw in this one. The polls were packed everywhere - so glad you saw the young people where you are. We saw kids drive by in cars yelling "Obama"! And lots of first time voters. I saw two young men taking pictures of each other in front of the "Vote Here Today" sign.

It is amazing.

I share your concern that he may not be able to do all he said he wants to do, and that the Republicans may prevent progress. I hope, having inherited this mess, he doesn't get the blame for it, which is what often happens.

But the way he ran this campaign, the calm certitude he had, the way he organized everything, gives me hope. I'm thinking he knows how to run things. Time will tell, and right now I'm still walking on a cloud!

Anonymous said...

Your experience mirrors that of my mom who also worked the polls yesterday as a judge in Indiana. She was stirred by the 70% turnout (highest ever in that precinct) and felt assured that Obama was driving the vote - either for or against, but what she didn't sense was any excitement for McCain.

I am going to give the new Congress and the new president the benefit of the doubt, but I'm also prepared to hold them accountable for getting good things done, started with repealing and cleaning up some horrible BushCo messes.

Demeur said...

This was not just the result of the youth vote. Check these NY Times electorial maps and you'll see what happened. America finally woke up and the shift is monumental.

God it took them long enough.

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