Wow. Election Day is finally over. More than that- Election Night is over. What's the difference? To me, its like night and day. Sort of like yesterday I did community service by coaching a pee-wee football team and last night I watched the Super Bowl.
In my house politics are like sports when it comes to viewing. We're very passionate. I'm fortunate that both Kitten and Oscelot are as nuts as I am (though they have less stamina, I was the only on who made it to President Obama's speech) so we went to vote yesterday afternoon and then settled in for a big night.
As most of you know, I don't own a television. So our election coverage was watched via online stream from NBC News. Bless their hearts. I love them for it. Coverage started at six my time, so we ordered a pizza at about six and we drug our couch out of the living room and into the library. We set up some footstools and then settled in for a long, long night.
It was a long night too. Believe me. There was a good deal of time I was on pins and needles. We didn't get up unless they were going to a scheduled break. We didn't do anything unless we had the chance of getting out of the room (usually to the bathroom) and back again without missing anything. There was one point in the night when Gov. Romney and Pres. Obama were tied, and Kitten missed it so I trucked into the bathroom to tell her immediately. (What? Touchdown Romney? Damnit...)
As the night wore on we became more anxious. I was dying to get results on our local and state elections because we had a nationally recognized senate race. Fortunately they put us out of our misery about that around ten. The rest of the night was us, engrossed, as we listened to political commentary and waited for Chuck Todd to show us the numbers in the swing counties and then for Brian Williams to interrupt so we could watch them call a state and then put it out on the ice.
When they finally -finally- called Ohio for the President, around eleven or so, our house erupted in cheers. (You're not surprised are you?) and we had a victory dance with our cats. Oscelot went to bed, saying she would watch the speeches in the morning. Then the unthinkable happened. Gov. Romney wouldn't concede Ohio. What??? Surely not? So Kitten and I went back to the screen and waited anxiously as the results from every other swing state rolled in. Colorado and Nevada...was that enough? Then we heard that Miami-Dade was not counting any more ballots as of midnight. What???
Finally, finally, Kitten went to bed too, apologizing that she couldn't stay up later. Hell, I don't blame her. Both of them had to work this morning after all. So I cozied up with the cats and waited for Gov. Romney to make the call. And waited.
Finally, the call was made and I listened to Gov. Romney's concession speech. I'll say this. I never would have voted for him. But he was dignified, passionate and caring. You could see in his face that he was heartbroken. You could hear in his voice that he truly cares for America. And that? It made all the difference to me. He is a good man. I don't agree with him. But had I seen that man on stage all year, I would have liked him better.
His speech down, I only waited on my new president. I was anxious and tired- but I would not miss this. His speech, to me, was beautiful. It was not just rhetoric. It was not just victory. It was a call for unity. And that, my friends, is what I learned while I was watching last night.
A lot of pundits say there was no mandate. A lot of them say that the country is more divided than ever. What I saw was Americans giving their elected officials a hard rap of the butt and telling them to get back to work and to get it right this time. Nothing changed, and everything changed.
I had an interesting conversation this morning with Sakura's aunt on facebook. She's a conservative, and she asked if we could have a discussion about gay marriage because she didn't understand why it was such a big deal that it be called marriage. After the long discussion it turns out that we agree. She doesn't think a church should be forced to marry two people if they don't want to, neither do I. But she does agree that all people have the same fundamental rights. We call it a draw, because it all boils down to the semantics of the word. But today, for the first time, I saw someone from the right who was willing to engage in discourse about a controversial topic important to both of us, and saw us walk away with an answer we could both live with.
That is what needs to happen now. I pray, I hope, and I will that there will be this kind of talk in Washington. I hope that there is a clear sense that four years ago we elected a bunch of liberals and it didn't work. We swapped them out for conservatives in the mid-term elections. That didn't work. Now we have a nice mix, similar but different, and we're ready for them to lay aside the bullshit and the party politics and talk. I think last night was America saying maybe we don't always agree. What's best for me might be bad for you, but maybe we can find something that is simply good for all of us. I hope this time we will have the opportunity to compromise and become a more socially minded electorate.
I can hope right?
Oh, and for those keeping tally, because I was-
*First openly gay senator elected.
*First female handicapped war veteran elected
* First openly pansexual elected to congress
*Four states voted to legalize or decriminalize marijuana (I don't like it, but can't we spend money fighting drugs like meth for a change?)
* Three states legalized gay marriage and one voted to repeal a constitutional amendment banning it.
This is huge. HUGE.
I can't tell you enough how excited I am. Or how exhausted. One of the highlights of the night for me was Sakura calling me at like, eleven thirty to celebrate with me. It was wonderful.
The game is over, let the games begin.
Thank you, thank you, to every person who went and voted yesterday. Today is a new day for all of us.
*NO SENATOR who publicly supported anti-abortion legislation for rape victims was elected.