There’s something to be said about living in the Nation’s capital. We can walk past the White House or the Capitol every day and think nothing of it, and yet we don’t usually put much thought into what’s going on inside. But something struck me in the past few days that I have found remarkable.
The entire city of Washington, DC, is in a good mood. Everyone, all at the same time. A shared mood is not something you experience every day, not with so many people anyway, and it’s not always a good mood. September 12, 2001 was one of those days, but not in a good way.
Keep in mind that Washington is a heavily Democratic city. Obama won 93% of the vote here. Ninety-three percent! In a city of almost half a million people, fewer than 15,000 of them voted for McCain. Walking around town on Wednesday, then, you would be hard pressed to find someone without a little skip in their step from the night before. I bet even the McCain voters were a little bit happy about the result. Nobody stopped to talk about it, really. Everyone still has to do their jobs, driving buses, making lunch, pushing papers. But you can just feel the underlying mood of happiness and anticipation of better times ahead. You know that feeling you get when something really good happens to you all of a sudden, like you just got a big promotion, and you feel so happy inside? Well, everyone here has that feeling right now, and it’s just amazing.
When Obama was declared the winner on Tuesday night, we went outside to celebrate with our neighbors on our street. Our block is pretty diverse – white, black, Latino, gay, straight, young, old, residents of 40 years or just a few months – and everyone was outside, and everyone was excited. There were fireworks from the next block, pots and pans banging, horns honking, and champagne flowing. Everyone was brought together by this incredibly special and amazing event. Kristen had been giving me a hard time on Tuesday night for not being sufficiently excited, but really I had been 99% sure for the past month that Obama would win. So when he actually did win, of course I didn’t need to jump up and down about it. That’s not really my personality anyway. It is this afterglow that has really gotten to me, that has restored my faith in the future.
I’m really looking forward to going to the inauguration in January. I’ve been to the last three, but of course this one will be much different. In 1997 I was fresh out of college and really didn’t care one way or the other about Bill Clinton. I went because it was there to see, waved the little flag that was handed to me and went home. In 2001 there were huge protests and people threw eggs at the presidential motorcade, plus there was an underlying fear that DC would become Texas North, and we would all be forced to wear cowboy hats. 2005 was more of the same, though the freezing cold weather drove us home before the president went by. But this time I don’t think anything could keep us away, and I can’t wait.
DC has it’s problems, but sometimes I think it’s the best place in the world to live.