I stood in the middle of the ballroom at the Obama Election Night party and bawled. My brother called, my daughters called, the text messages kept on coming, and I bawled.
I knew I was standing at a crossroads of history. The fight my father started when he tried to make Las Vegas hotels allow the African-Americans who performed there (his friends and clients) sleep and eat in those same hotels is over.
The marches on Washington, the barricades in the streets, my classmates who died trying to register black voters -- it's over.
But something else is also over. Secrecy in government is over. The enormous success of Barack Obama's online campaign efforts trumps even his success in overcoming racial divides. Voters were mobilized who were never mobilized before.
In downtown Phoenix last night, the entire first floor of the Wyndham Hotel, the Democratic headquarters, was dominated by Latino voters yelling "si se puede," black voters bringing their babies and children to watch a historic moment, and young people celebrating the way young people always do -- by getting drunk:-)
My son's fiancee, barely 21, voted for the first time and was so high after doing so that she texted all her friends to make them go out and vote, too.
Young people voted. The internet brought them, and unlike in previous years, the internet kept them motivated and in touch until they actually showed up at the polls, waited in the lines with all the smelly old people, and actually cast a vote.
And now they will hack the systems that keep the Hank Paulsons of the world in charge of our destinies, bailing out their friends and mangling our personal finances. I know my geeks; they will get it done. Transparency in government. I will see it in my life time.
John McCain knew it. He stood at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, built during the last Great Depression and traditionally home to the rich, white infrastructure of Arizona, and congratulated Obama graciously. He knew it was over for people like him. In his concession speech, he was more like the McCain I used to admire; tolerant, intelligent, and calm. What happened to him during this campaign? Handlers, maybe. Sarah Palin, maybe. And just a horde of generations pushing behind him, maybe.
I wake up to a different world. A world in which the Taliban want to negotiate and Pakistan could be our friend. We are once again the United States of America.
I'm so glad to be alive. Personally, I'm wiped out by the last eight years, but I don't care. Some things are bigger than I am, and bigger than life, and I just lived to see one of them.
Toot, 'ya did good.
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