A Squeal of Joy in the Night

There will be many posts like this across the Web now and tomorrow and for weeks to come. This is just a minuscule speck of human experience, brought to you by the overwhelming pride I feel tonight. What I want to do is just say thank you. Thank you for restoring what little faith we dared to extend to our ailing country.

I spent tonight with my mother in a Russian restaurant, drinking pepper vodka and hoping. Trying to not think, trying to shake the jitters that woke me at 5am today and sent so many of us flying to the polls well before they opened. When the television showed us your power, it was almost instant – the tidal wave of joy. Just as I was saying I was afraid to believe it, the screaming started. Outside, on Santa Monica boulevard, right in the heart of boystown, people were cheering and car horns were going off in the most beautiful cacophony I’ve ever heard. Mom and I stepped outside to absorb it all, along with the cold night air. She turned to me in all that wind and noise to say: “Do you believe it now?”. I almost began to cry.

What happens next is uncertain. Whether Obama will come through, whether we will finally begin to heal – none of it is clear in this moment. All we do know is our fate has been changed profoundly. This was our chance to prove we have evolved and we didn’t blow it. So thank you – to everyone who cast aside their cynicism, to everyone who made their voice heard along with ours. History was made tonight and we can only hope our faith will be justified. Celebrate, people. You’ve earned that right today.

You can keep track of propositions’ progress here.

45 Responses to “A Squeal of Joy in the Night”

  1. Kambriel Says:

    I am filled with pride in our nation this night. I’ve been voting for as long as I’ve been eligible, and this is the first time the President I voted for won. I’m perfectly happy to have waited this long in order to finally see (and feel) this day happen.

    Dear Martin Luther King Jr. ~ Tonight, we as a people have gotten to that mountain top! I want to ring a bell that wakes up the entire world and let them share our joy!

  2. Peter S. Says:

    I want to be happy. But then I remember going to bed in 2000 with Gore as my President-elect, and I still feel the nerves.

    Also, Prop Hate still brings a painful lump in my throat, sitting at a 55% pass right now. No state is free of ignorance, certainly not mine.

  3. Ben Johnson Says:

    Re: Prop 8: SF and LA are major population centers that haven’t released a lot of their results yet because there are still people voting in some particularly populous precincts. Don’t count yer chickens just yet, lovelies.

  4. Sandra Says:

    Beautifully written. Even though I was not on Santa Monica Blvd, but rather stuck in the suburbs, we screamed with you.

  5. rickie Says:

    i am so happy :)

    i feel like i’m in love

  6. meeks Says:

    there is cheering and horn honking, and high-fives from strangers on the streets in SOMA, and everywhere else here in SF.

    thank you, america, you’ve done good.

  7. Princess Poochie Says:

    I was crying and overwhelmed. I don’t pray but I’m praying we come together – stronger and saner – as a country.


  8. k paul blume Says:

    I voted for and support Mr Obama, however, I cannot but think, looking at that map spray painted on the ice at 30 Rock, that this country is as divided as ever it was.
    We still have so much work to do.

  9. Lauren Says:

    I’m so happy! Just reiterating other comments, but I feel wonderful, hopeful, ecstatic!

  10. Alice Says:

    I just couldn’t help it. As soon as I heard the shouting, the honking, the “OBAMAAAAAAAAA!”s…..I vomited.

  11. Peter S. Says:

    Bare minimum, the USA will have an African-American in the Oval Office by the time my son is born. My child will know a world predicated on a different reality than I did as a child, and for that I thank my fellow citizens.

  12. What's in a name anyways? Says:

    Congratulations from Canada..08

  13. polyvalence Says:

    @ Princess Poochie as a country and as world, today is the first wave of change this world is eager for, today hope and faith burn stronger than ever in my heart. Thank you all

  14. Olivia Says:

    America is great and hopefully it always will be. Now its up to Obama to live up to his promises.

  15. Tequila Says:

    I left to grab something to eat a bit after 6pm PST and everything was up in the air. I ignored EVERYTHING waiting for 8pm. It was easy to do as around here it was all dead outside with handfuls of people out and about…

    I get home and what do I see? Obama won Virginia. VIRGINIA. That was huge and not long after the hard math showed we had the hope we all NEED right now. It’s a beautiful night and even the hardest cynic has to believe in all the idealism often thrown around without much thought. Tonight at least the American Dream was so bright it was impossible not to see and believe in.

    Good job people!

    Sure we have miles to go and a lot of work…but at least now we feel like we can not only do it but do it together…and beyond just our borders at that.

  16. mildred Says:

    As a baby-killing socialist with a foreign-sounding name, I am most chuffed to be American right now :)
    Thank you, sincerely, to everyone who voted today.

  17. Kirk Mitchell Says:

    Congrats America. I’m a little less afraid of you now.

  18. stephanie Says:

    i’ve never been so moved by a current living political leader. this IS an amazing moment in our history.

  19. Jani Says:

    I congratulate you America and Americans!
    I drinked pepper vodka too and it was good, but this is even better news.
    First thing I did this morning when I woke up was checking election results.

  20. Skerror Says:

    Well said Zo. I’m so psyched to start cleaning this mess up :D

  21. Ruby Says:

    I. am. happy.
    Its bigger news here in new Zealand than our own elections in a week, and. just YAY!!!

  22. christiane Says:

    it was the first thing i heard when the radio woke me up this morning, i felt very happy :)

  23. Shay Says:

    The view from Tel-Aviv:

    I was really nervous all last night. Laying in bed, watching the US Edition of CNN off the intertubes, and twitter on my iPod.
    When Ohio went for Obama, I knew it was over and I could finally get some sleep. Today I just feel ecstatic; I’m so pleased with this outcome — I’m reminded of 1999, when my uncle took the Prime Ministership here from rightwing fascist Benjamin Nethanyahu, and people spontaneously flooded the streets, cheered, high-fived strangers and danced all night. I hope Obama has the courage, strength and tenacity to deliver on his promise.

    The only pinch in my heart right now is that Prop Hate looks like it’s going to pass in California, which is a big blow to the Gay Rights Movement. I hope a Dem Washington will be able to move things forward on the national scale.

  24. Kitty Napalm Says:

    I was sad that I couldn’t vote. My father, who passed away last year, was half-American and held an American citizenship. I’m British born but my blood ties give me a love and respect for the USA so I would have liked to help drag it from the ditch it’s fallen into.

    I knew Obama would be victorious, however I also had that fear before we switched on the TV this morning that somehow that had been flipsided. I was wrong, and of course all over the news came Obama’s speech. I felt extraordinarily happy and wished I could celebrate instead of coming into work today.

    Of course people at my workplace are happy with the decision made, and it’s very important, but I can’t imagine the kind of elation that you must have seen and experienced when the announcement arrived. That atmosphere must be intoxicating.

    Thanks so much for sharing how you felt for those of us who can’t be there. And thank you to the US citizens who did what was necessary. This is a great day in many ways.

  25. Jon Munger Says:

    Tonight a weight was lifted from my shoulders, a weight I’d been carrying for eight years, and more before that . The weight of growing up in a society more concerned with sex scandals and tax cuts than sacrifice and intelligence. A society that worshiped at the feet of base and vile men, who breathed fear and despair.
    Bush was appointed when I was twenty one. The towers fell the next year. I’ve never known a day of my adult life where I could look my neighbor in the eye and say “I believe in America”, and not feel something in my heart sink. I’ve never had a day of my adult life where I could look to the future, to my chosen profession and not feel guilt that I was merely fiddling while Rome burnt.

    Now I can breathe and look at my country with hope that we will not fall too far without catching ourselves. Now I can breathe.

    Now, of course, comes the hard part.

  26. David Forbes Says:

    I’m up this morning with hell’s own hangover after spending all of yesterday doing election coverage before raucously celebrating. I’ve only slept for a few hours, but I’m not tired.

    Because victory feels beautiful.

    A few things:

    America gets a lot of shit. Sometimes, this country deserves it. But, as a friend of mine exultantly pointed out last night, this isn’t just the first black American President — it’s the first time a mostly white country has elected a black man to their highest office. For all its many faults, America is formed at its heart by the outcasts, dissidents, con artists, dirt poor and weirdos — all the people who were kicked out of somewhere else. That’s a curse, but it’s also a blessing: here, anything is possible — and sometimes that’s more than empty words.

    The South gets a lot of shit. Sometimes, we deserve it. But this area is a lot more than the stereotypes. For years I’d hear people say “oh, that place is just full of rednecks, there’s not point in any sort of liberal/progressive campaigning there, they’ll never win.” Growing up, I knew this to be false, because I’d seen repression beaten off or pushed back by Southern liberals — often outnumbered but very, very determined. It barely came through at the national level because people believed the Red State/Blue State crapola so much that the they wouldn’t even bother to campaign here.

    Well someone finally ditched the bullshit and decided it was worth fighting for, that when you got down to it, Southerners, like everyone else, want a better future. It was still very close, but Virginia, North Carolina (yes!) and Florida are no small prizes.

    Also, to everyone who voted: thank you. Covering politics, it’s very easy for cynicism to seep into your bones, to expect that at the last moment, people will stay home and the bastards will win again. I am so very, very glad to be proven wrong.

    You’re right, the future is uncertain: I don’t believe in political saviors and there’s a lot of problems ahead. But Obama is the best politician this country has seen in a long, long time. Unlike many, he actually wants to help solve them. It’s a start.

  27. January Says:

    Congratulations, America- I never thought you had it in you!
    I hope, I hope, I hope that Obama lives up to our expectations, for your sake and for the rest of the world’s. Living in Canada, with a government that will do whatever the American government tells it to do, I think I’m as elated and relieved as a lot of you are by the awesome choice made by America last night. Whether he lives up to the Superhero image that seems to be being created for him remains to be seen, but I think we can all safely say: He’s going to be better than the last guy- and considering the state of the world, that’s huge.
    Thanks for voting. Thanks for voting WELL.

  28. Greg The Bunny Says:

    As a life-long Republican these last eight years have been particularly difficult for me. Where was the party of small government? Where was the party of personal freedoms? Of free enterprise and capitalism? McCain wailed about how much of a ‘socialist’ BO was very shortly after having written a $700 BILLION check to rich men who dug their own holes.

    I didn’t leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me. I think it might be dead. Or at least in a very deep coma. I voted for Obama. I voted for him because I truly believe he is the right man for the job right now.

    It is Morning in America.

  29. captaincrash Says:

    America today you have never looked more beautiful from across the pond. With all the love in the world, congratulations.

  30. Nadya Says:

    Guys, I’m curious. Are there any McCain voters who read Coilhouse? What are your thoughts?

  31. Mer Says:

  32. Zoetica Says:

    Mer, I almost cried. Again.

  33. Mer Says:

    Yuss. I was wandering around downtown Oakland last night, bawling and being hugged by bawling strangers. :)

  34. Tanya Says:

    It is a wonderful occasion and such an important moment in history. And I was also teary eyed during McCain’s concession speech. He was so gracious and humble about the whole thing, and I appreciate his trying to subdue his audience of sore losers who booed and hissed. It is good to know, whether he means all of it or not, that publically he is showing his respect for the victor. I dunno, it just made me feel almost just as squishy as Obama’s speech.

  35. Jessica Says:

    So exciting, there are no words. *sob* Hurrah!!!

  36. copyranter Says:

    I cried while waiting in line to vote. I’m COPYRANTER damn it—he doesn’t cry. He curses and plays hockey! (sniffle)

  37. Alice Says:

    @Nadya-Why, yes. Yes there are McCain voters who read Coilhouse. Err…I mean, there’s one, at least. And I’m surprisingly curious to see what will happen in the next four years, but my hopes aren’t high.

  38. sonia Says:

    Well done! The world wanted this but was scared to believe it could happen – I was watching at work, with most of the people around me glaring at the states as they came in – we had champagne to celebrate, and like Ruby says, it was as big as our own Aus elections!

  39. Paul Komoda Says:

    Spent last evening roaming around Center City, Philly with Nadya. Quite the uproarious, festivities afoot in the streets here, and that was BEFORE Obama’s victory. Resonant visual tableaus abounded before our eyes.
    The crumpled, elephantine figure of the individual Nadya dubbed the “Sad McCain Man” in the Republican campaigning office window( please post that photo! )was a perfect visual metaphor for the passing of a most unsightly era in American history.
    The Bosch-like image of the crazed, methadone-eyed homeless woman and her dog with it’s disturbingly pendulous teats on the street corner…well, didn’t have any relevance to the election, but was certainly an impactful image.
    I was back in my apartment when I heard the celebration erupt outside a few minutes before I had my hopes confirmed via the interwebz.
    Quite a rare and wonderful moment, and nothing like I’ve ever experienced before in my life.

  40. Alexander Says:

    @Nadya – Make that two. I’m more a libertarian than true conservative, but nothing frightens me more than communism…

    Suffice to say, at this point, I’m a bit lacking in the “hope” department.

  41. Jerem Morrow Says:

    YES. YES. YES.

  42. cappy Says:


    Jesus, I wish you Obama-haters in the US would shut the fuck up about communism. You don’t even know what communism is — most of you have never even left your own country.

    Obama’s about as “communist” as China, which is not at all. The man’s at worst a progressive socialist, and at best is the most “moderate” President America’s seen in a LONG time.

    And I’m really sad that Prop Hate passed. At least it was by a smaller margin than the one in 2000, right?

  43. Alice Says:

    @cappy- Yowz. It was just a response to a question. No need to jump down throats.

  44. Nadya Says:

    Guys, guys! Before this or any other argument has a chance to pick up wind… I didn’t ask that question for this thread to devolve into comments that include the phrase “STFU.” Not on this thread and not today, please!

    I asked because I was genuinely curious how diverse the commenters here are politically, and no one’s gonna come out and say anything if they see this thread devolve into arguments. There are SO many other sites where you can do that. I want this to be more of a…. statistical thing. Thanks!

  45. Mer Says:

    An Open Letter to Barack Obama, from Alice Walker, writer:

    Nov. 5, 2008

    Dear Brother Obama,

    You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm
    for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

    I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy
    endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

    I would further advise you not to take on other people’s enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people’s spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

    A good model of how to “work with the enemy” internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

    We are the ones we have been waiting for.

    In Peace and Joy,
    Alice Walker