Wednesday, November 05, 2008

About Last Night

At quarter past eleven, New York City erupted in a community primal scream, a shout so jubilant that only one person appeared to not be swept up in it.

"What's going on up there?" The token booth clerk at 86th and Broadway asked a customer.

"It's for Obama."


"You don't care?"

"No. Obama. Whatever."

I guess if I had to sit in a bullet-proof booth night after night, handing out MetroCards, I'd be kind of dejected too.

But for the other New Yorkers, there was no stopping the joy. The horns, the hoots, the shouts. The occasional "It's over!" But why quarter-past, why not at eleven on the dot when California, Oregon, and Washington reported in and tipped the scales?

Cuz people were crying. Total silence for a minute, and then gasps and sniffles. I looked around the room I was in, watching my friend's big-ass flat-screen TV. Not a dry eye in the house. Earlier that evening, when I'd rushed uptown after class, the streets had been abandoned as New Yorkers gathered around televisions and held their breath. We're not exactly a stronghold of the right-wing up here, plus any way you cut it, the neocons were out. Now the question was, what direction would we go in?

I don't envy Obama his new job. It's no secret that two things that got him where he is now are Iraq and the economy. Neither of which has any obvious or easy solution. Neither of which can be repaired without significantly unpopular choices and some national—and global—pain. A bit of perceived betrayal is inevitable. But damned if we didn't witness a cultural and generational shift last night. Baby boomers were put on notice. The balance of power shifted from old-school to something as-yet-unnamed.

And you know that scene at the end of Star Wars, where celebrations take place around the galaxy? Keep your eyes on the BBC today, that's all I'm saying.