Obama Has Already Won

12/02/2008 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

This is the countdown to the most important election in our lifetime. Although I'm hoping for a huge Obama landslide, no matter the outcome on Tuesday, he has already won by mobilizing the most important resource we have...our youth. Millions of young people are working together in a grass roots effort to elect Barack. Millions more across the globe have internalized him as a role model for authentic leadership. And all this at a time when just about everything... from the economy to the ecosystem... lies in tatters.
Earlier this week I was hunched over my computer, cordless phone on speaker mode, earnestly following the directions of a young guy named Will who was troubleshooting the LAN connection to our printer. The requisite software download was silently snaking its way into my hard-drive. As it completed its journey through cyberspace, Will and I had a moment of companionable downtime.
"I voted early last Monday," I offered, "have you voted yet?" Yes, I know. You think I'm a busybody. Well, ordinarily I'm anything but. Polite, circumspect, always appropriate. That's me. But I'm not the only person whose ordinarily taciturn self has become politically chatty. There is a new kind of intimacy emerging in this election, even among relative strangers. This is a new phenomenon, a social networking explosion that has quite literally changed the spin on things.
"Yes, ma'am, I voted." Will sounded so excited that I instantly forgave him for calling me ma'am, which makes me feel as old as dirt.
"I voted for Obama," I continued confidently, sensing an unspoken solidarity with my invisible young techno-helper. If I turned out to be wrong about his political persuasion, well, no big deal. Our relationship was destined to be a short one in any case. He wasn't, for instance, a relative I'd be eating turkey with in a few weeks.
"I voted for Obama, too," he replied. I could almost hear the smile in his voice. The pride and hope that emanated from him was contagious. I felt intensely, powerfully proud to be an American. Not because of our history, for better and often for worse, but for who we might become in this pivotal time. For what we might accomplish when we sober up from our collective greed-fest and find the willingness to do the work and make the sacrifices necessary to get back on track.
"I actually cried when I filled in the box next to his name," I admitted sheepishly.
"I know what you mean. This was my first election and I am so psyched. I'm spending the whole weekend canvassing for Obama. We've gotta do this. We've gotta win this. We can win this," he finished.
There was a short silence. I, never a flag waver, actually needed to compose myself. My normally jaded, Grinch-like political heart was growing so fast that it barely fit inside my chest.
"Yes we can," I tried to stay bright while fantasies of Diebold machines converting Democratic votes into Republican victory rose before my eyes. Like the majority of Boulder early voters I'd chosen a paper ballot to be safe.
Outside the polling place I met a young woman with a lot of energy and even more piercings. We'd both just finished casting our ballots and were hanging out in the hallway waiting for our respective guys to emerge. Of course, we talked. It was "Casey's" first presidential election. She was holding her "I voted" sticker tenderly and wishing that she had a page of them.
"Are most of your friends voting?" I asked.
She fixed me with a serious gaze. "All my friends are voting," she smiled. It is a privilege to vote."
I knew better than to ask who she'd just voted for at a polling place (even in this wild political climate I have some social comportment), but I wasn't surprised when I saw her drive away in a car sporting an Obama/Biden sticker. Yes We Can is a great slogan. But it's even greater to realize, on the weekend before the election, that in a very real way, we already have. The future is in good hands like Will's and Casey's. They care. They are involved. And that is something to make a Grinch like me proud to be an American.