Dancin' in the streets. A view of Obama's victory from the upper west side of NYC.

November 08, 2008 by susan
crowd dancing in street

Photo courtesy of Utne.com

We've all read accounts of the amazing outpouring of elation all over the world after Obama's Tuesday night victory. I couldn't help thinking that it was like the Munchkins dancing after the wicked witch was dead.

Here's another view of that night. My sister DKNY emailed me what she saw and heard from her 9th floor apartment on the upper west side, near 106th and Broadway.
Read it here.

Here's how election night went chez moi. Weisser and I had planned to watch the returns together, as we had the last two elections, with the knowledge that this time things'd turn out right.

We started watching around seven o'clock and watched and watched and watched. Amazingly dull -- and weird, because I have no cable. So we had to keep switching networks, and kept seeing different little stuff running across the bottom of the screen, stuff like McCain 63, Obama 37. Jesus, McCain's winning Florida???

Then of course it'd be some little precinct of some little podunk place, with 4% of the vote counted. But Ohio wasn't looking good, nor was Virginia, in those early hours, and the talking heads were reluctant to anticipate anything too early, so on we dragged.

Scott arrived around nine o'clock and we all ate supper in front of the TV -- still nothing exciting. We had some celebratory Champagne sherbet, but there still wasn't any announcement of anything one way or the other. Weisser left - "I gotta go watch this in my bed, cause I'm falling asleep.." Scott left, "I'm fading out here........"

So I walked them to the door, came back in time to hear Jim Lehrer saying, "It's eleven o'clock here, eight o'clock on the west coast, which means polls are closed in California, and so, we can now call California for Obama, as well as some of these other Pacific states, and declare Barack Obama as the winner of the presidential election of 2008. Now let's go to Chicago, where, etc. etc."

"Oh, so that's it!" thinks I. "Finally. Well, good, of course it's not really a surprise, after all, the polls and all, for some time now. . ."

But then, outside, I began to hear cheers and clatters and shouts and horns beeping, little by little, sort of like New Year's Eve, or the Yankees winning, but more so. Looked out the window and there were some people on their knees across the street, arms raised up, saying "yes, yes, thank you thank thank you." Columbia kids and home boys, running down 106th St. And at that point everything kind of hit home for me. "Wow, this really really means something, this is a huge moment" - all the stuff that's been said and we've all heard again and again, but still very very moving.

And the noise and celebration went on and on, except when Obama came on to speak, and then everything stopped and was quiet. And then, after the speech, noise/partying sounds started up again. Very cool, this whole collective unorchestrated behavior. By two o'clock or so, our time, the noise had stopped, and I presume everyone toddled happily off to bed.
And that's the way it was with me, in NYC.

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Comments

Poet (not verified) | November 9, 2008 - 1:09am

Both Mrs Poet and myself were poll workers (and the operative word is "work" because it ends up being a 14-15 hour day). We were at the club house of a golf and country club housing subdivision in the heart of North Florida where there was a 98% plurality of registerd Republicans to Democrats.

As the day wore on the crowds were less than we had expected (due largely to absentee and early voting) but the mood was unmistakable--resigned disappointment and some anger at apparent inevitability of it all.

Poll workers (as well as poll watchers of which we had two all day loong!)are (rightly I believe) prohibited from making any partisan comments during their service. Around 5 o' clock (for the umpteenth time) I was asked how the turnout had been and I answered that it looked like a record turnout.

This is usually encouraging to most participants in an election but not this time. Seeing the disappointment and wanting to be non-partisanly constructive I responded,"well regardless of the outcome this is good because it means that everybody had the chance to have their voice heard and took advantage of that opportunity."

This comment was greeted with the kiind of depression and resentment that scripture describes as "weeping and gnashing of teeth". There was no celebratory fireworks, dancing, or singing there or in my neighborhood.

That kind of excitement is reserved for college football and NASCAR racing in these parts. Many African-Americans however, were calling to each other out of cars or as they walked along the street with beaming smiles and occasional clinched raised fists and cries of "yes" the next day.

Florida finally got an honest vote count and the Democrats finally carried the state (got rid of two Republican congressional representatives too!).

Despite my non-support of Obama, I wanted to gloat over the whole thing in light of the last 8 sorry miserable years of Bush rule (Florida had the dubious honor of havingt lil' Jeb as our governor for 8 years also and I detested every day of his adminstration also)

But having seen the resentment, anger, and depression of the voters who supported the loser and realizing how much work needs to be done the gloat just didn't happen for me.

I will enjoy the delicious pleasure of watching Bush and Cheney being (finally!) replaced as they sit on the dais on innauguration day and watch as the country (finally) rejects their sorry misrule of the past 8 years.

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babs (not verified) | November 9, 2008 - 8:12am

(((Poet))) What a great word picture! I could see it unfolding. Schadenfreude is a wonderful thing sometimes, isn't it?

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