Despite my skepticism of the efficacy of electoral politics, I concede that the election of Barack Obama has brought demonstrative joy to the city of Los Angeles. Yesterday, I observed people smiling, celebrating and in an overall giddy mood*. I heard of workplaces having impromptu parties complete with champagne. Secret Obama supporters finally admitted their presidential choice and even some McCain supporters I know seemed buoyed by the energetic feelings around them.
A few overheard conversations from yesterday:
An older white woman comes into my workplace smiling broadly. She’s been quiet and then all of a sudden blurts out “We have a new president!” She then goes on to say how excited and relieved she is by the election results and exclaims “It’s like the whole country let out a sigh of relief.” I reply “I think it’s the whole world.”
A Salvadoran nanny approaches a known McCain supporter and exclaims “So aren’t you excited about Barack Obama?!” I can make out some muttering and the nanny laughing. She then tells the McCain supporter “No matter who you voted for, you have to admit that his being elected president will inspire many communities and lots of youth.” The McCain supporter seems to sincerely agree.
At a popular restaurant, a middle aged African American man sits by himself at a booth with an ear to ear grin. A few minutes later, his friends show up, all African-American men, all with the same broad smiles. They are ecstatic, hugging, shaking hands. One friend greets the other with “Welcome to the NEW WORLD!” A White friend of theirs sheepishly comes up to the table of greetings and salutations and they shout to him “C’mere brother!” and hug him too.
*For some, this mood was tempered by the passing of Proposition 8. I know of one straight person who says they won’t marry in solidarity until everyone can get married. I’ve always had a problem with the concept of marriage as an institution (all my Emma Goldman influence) but that still doesn’t mean I don’t think everyone should have access to the rights and privileges of civil unions. Anyways, is it really about marriage? When I would see a ‘Yes on 8’ sticker on someone’s car I would think to myself “That person is anti-gay”. It’s just like the people who were for Prop 187, I felt like that propaganda was a coded way to be anti-Mexican.
How to win an election
In all the years I’ve lived in Lincoln Heights (for at least four presidential cycles now) one would never know there was a presidential election happening. There are very few yard signs, no door to door canvassing and no campaign offices. This year was different, an Obama campaign office sprung up in the new lofts across from Vons on Daly. It’s possible I missed places in the past, but this is the first presidential campaign office I’ve ever noticed in Lincoln Heights.
So hear that politicians, open an office in Lincoln Heights and win the election!
[Actually, it’s almost impossible to tell when any elections are happening with the exception of the Villaraigosa mayoral race. His campaign was the only one to ever come to my door and ask for my (somewhat useless) vote.]
The Day(s) After
Someone asked me today, “I wonder how long before we start to criticize Obama?” Ummm…