I didn't get to experience CNN calling the election for Barack Obama first-hand. Some friends and I had just left the Sonia Chang-Diaz celebration at the Alchemist Lounge (read the work blog here) to head to the MassEquality party at Club Cafe. We were fervently hailing a cab on South Huntington when a huge, boisterous cheer went up inside the bar.
Just then, a cab pulled up. As we piled in, we heard the muted voices of NPR, and asked our driver if Obama had won.
"Yes," he said. My friends cheered, and our Ethiopian cabbie joined in.
As we sped through the South End, the NPR broadcast continued, with several cheers audible from the studio. As one of my friends, who volunteered for Obama during the primaries, called her parents and cried happily, I thought about what we'd just experienced.
When I was a kid, I was told that anyone could become president, even a person of color or a woman. But it always seemed remote and impossible, like hovercrafts or the idea most people would one day own cellular phones.
Last night, I saw a man be elected not because of the color of his skin, but in spite of it. There was plenty of ugly race baiting throughout this nearly two-year campaign, but most Americans didn't fall for it. Instead, they voted because they think this awkward-looking guy will be the one to pull the country out of its many problems.
I've never experienced the mind-blowing elation that many Obama supporters exhibit, largely because I'm the hard-hearted cynical type that the president-elect railed against in his speech last night. But I hope that he can make good on the promises he's made to help the little people and make the presidency something other than the world's punchline.