I haven't gone to bed yet, feeling a bit of insomnia tonight. It's November 4th, and in a few hours the polls will open back east. The impression that a starter's gun will go off and kick off voting is a bit of an illusion; many, including myself, voted days or weeks ago. But the sensation of pent-up energy and release persists, because despite early voting and absentee ballots it really all does come down to today.
Unless something very inexplicable is wrong with the polls (not exit polls, the national and state polls), there's every chance that in sixteen hours we'll be seeing the United States of America elect its first African-American president, and by extension its first president who wasn't a white male. At the same time we're also possibly electing a direct successor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in the sense that we're electing a Democrat in the face of a widening and deepening economic crisis and recession-threatening-depression.
I'll have more to say when and if this happens, but suffice it to say that tonight might witness the civil rights movement unify with New Deal economic policy in a way that has not occurred since Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society."
This is a tall order, and none of us know whether Barack Obama can lead us towards something as significant as that. The signs are improving. At this point, however, all we can do is hope.
Tomorrow, there will be much to think about, and much to participate in, and much to do. In the coming weeks after the election I hope to elaborate on what I think it will take. Today, I'll hold my breath with the rest of the country and await our collective democratic decision as a free society.
But there's more than just hope here. I feel something stronger coming on, when I talk to people. Obama's will not be an ordinary presidency, just as it has not been an ordinary campaign.
And later today, we make that possibility real.