Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Our election night party
Election day was exciting for all sorts of reasons. Margaret and I and our son Rob had all voted early. Another family member (who had been uncertain who to vote for) dreamt the night before that Obama was elected and woke up feeling happy. That evening, while Margaret was preparing for a family party, I took our daughter Julie to vote for the first time. I think I was more excited than she was.
In honor of Barack Obama, Margaret brought together food representing places he has lived or has significant connections with: she made pineapple upside down cake (in honor of Hawaii), Boston baked beans (to suggest the Harvard connection), picked up something close to deep dish pizza (for Chicago), and got naan--flat bread--from Bombay House because it's probably something like what they eat in Kenya. Kaila made and brought some Thai soup, which is almost sort of like something they might eat in Indonesia (maybe?). I guess we should have come up with something from Kansas too. And I really think something from Arizona would have been nice, in honor of John McCain. We had at least one McCain voter at the party.
By the time I left for devotional at the Missionary Training Center, Pennsylvania had been called for Obama, a major step toward winning. I enjoyed devotional and then went to the classroom area to greet the missionaries and other branch presidency members. But since the district I would normally have met with had left for the field that morning, President Robinson suggested that I could head for home if I wanted. I took him up on the suggestion. News I heard on the radio while driving indicated results were continuing to trend toward Obama. I reached home around 8:30, dug into the food again, and started coloring in one of the electoral maps Margaret had provided. By this time Margaret, Julie, Misha, Rob, Stephanie, and Kaila and Noah and kids (Gabby, Alex, and Oliver) were there.
It was becoming clear that Obama was going to win the electoral vote. By this time Ohio had gone for him too, and as I had announced earlier in the evening, Pennsylvania plus any one of several swing states--Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, or Florida--would probably clinch it for him. The TV stations declared it for Obama immediately after 9pm our time--just after the west coast states closed their polls. (For video of the moment, click here.) What the stations then showed were scenes around the country--even some around the world--with people reacting to Obama's victory with smiles, cheers, and tears. It was clear that we were witnessing history. And we had taken part in the making of that history.
We then listened to McCain's gracious concession speech in which--having to subdue the booing of the crowd when he mentioned Obama--he paid tribute to his opponent, offered his help and good wishes, and expressed his love for his country. I've often seen people show their best side in defeat. In this case, I believe McCain showed evidence of true greatness.
And then we listened to Obama's speech--serious, eloquent, moving, inspiring, generous, hopeful. We all felt grateful to live in a country where this kind of thing can happen. I'm sure people will begin wrangling again soon, but it felt--it still feels--as if there is a genuine possibility that Americans can work together with goodwill to solve problems. There is even hope on a global scale that we can recognize our kinship and interdependence and spend more time helping and learning from each other and less time fearing and destroying.
Photos from our party: (1) Top: Margaret, Misha, Bruce, Julie, Rob, Stephanie; (2) Middle row left: Rob; (3) Middle row middle: Stephanie and Julie; (4) Middle row right: Bruce; (5) Bottom row left: Gabby; (6) Bottom row middle: Gabby and Julie (and Barack); (7) Bottom row right: Stephanie and Rob. (For more photos see "Election party photos.")