I did my civic duty yesterday, and my shark is very proud of me. This is the first election I've ever voted in, and my family seemed surprised I had even registered. My dad woke me up this morning with a phone call, explaining himself for going away for Thanksgiving because my sister told him I was upset about it, when in reality I didn't even know. I asked him if he voted, and he got very dejected and complained that none of the candidates he voted for won. But he did provide information I had been wondering about for the entirety of yesterday: my mom actually went to the polls. She has never been a political person, but every four years when the election came up, she would just vote how my dad told her to. Now that they're not really together anymore, I have been thinking long and hard if the woman who runs from polictical discussion would throw herself into the line of fire. And she did. I'm more proud of her, regardless of who she voted for, than I am of myself for changing my mind at the last second about voting as an institution.
Anyway, the point of this is that my family was sure that I just didn't care enough. I wish they could have been here to see the campus last night, and then ask themselves again if it is even possible for me not to have an opinion of some kind. As soon as it was clear by a serious margin that Obama had taken the election (in the company of the shocking new blue states of Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio), everyone on campus started screaming and there was this palpable sense of relief. We all ran out of our house to hug and congratulate each other on the end of the era of mis-step that we grew up with. And the everyone spontaneously ended up on the library lawn, where people had assembled with every musical instrument I could think of and were playing celebratory music, dancing, and chanting things like "yes we can" and "Obama". The overwhelming sense of joy was almost too much to take. I didn't know if I could believe that it was true. I kept feeling like we'd go back to James' place and the pundits wold be pointing and laughing at us, one big "gotcha". But then again, that's what the past eight years have been in a way.
All of us ended up crying at one point or another, and with good reason. This is a generation-defining moment. We got the vote out. Turn-out is projected to be the highest it's been in decade, especially for my age bracket. I really feel like I mattered here, that this election was one for the people who have grown up having to do with less and less. When we were little, we were living in the budget surplus of the Clinton administration, and though foreign policy wasn't the greatest, we weren't losing thousands of lives in a war with wishy-washy intentions. Bush II saw the decline of our middle class, our way of life. Our parents taking on more than they could handle in terms of hours at the office and debt in order to give us what we wanted, and there was no end in sight. I am coming of age in the wake of the era of the latch-key kid. We are used to being thought of as harmless. But we were not harmless yesterday. And now that our voices have been heard, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.
And we have this man to lead us out of the multi-faceted crisis we have been sinking in since it all began eight years ago.