04 November 2009

One Year Ago, Tonight

I will post an assessment of President Obama at the one-year point of his presidency in January, when he reaches the official 365 day mark from his inauguration. Today, I want to focus on the historic election that took place on this day, one year ago. No matter your feelings of Mr. Obama then or now, one can't deny the huge step forward America took that evening.

Let's flash back, shall we?

Although my first choice for the Democratic nomination was Joe Biden, he dropped out of the race before California's February primary, and I shifted my support to Barack Obama. My passionate support for the junior senator from Illinois went against many of my friends, as well as my partner, who were all supporting Hillary Clinton. I held firm, though. I believed strongly that Mr. Obama truly was the best choice for our great country. As Election Day neared, I laid out my reasoning in my official endorsement. You can read that essay by clicking here.

In the final weekend before the election, polling showed Obama leading his Republican opponent, John McCain, by an average of 7 percentage points. I thought things would tighten up and that some sort of "Bradley effect" would take place in a few key states. Thus, I predicted the final result would be much closer: 311 to 227 in the Electoral College. (For the record, the pundits were right, I was wrong. Obama won 365 to 173.)

On the morning of Election Day, Brent and I walked down to our polling place and stood in line for an hour to cast our ballots in that historic election. Later in the day, with hopes high and fingers crossed, our friends Gil and Duane joined us at our place to watch returns come in. Things started off well and never let up. By 7:35pm California time, the math looked really good - Barack Obama had 207 electoral votes, and polls were scheduled to close here, as well as in Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii at 8pm. I knew that if pre-election polling in those states held true, the networks would be able to call the presidency at the top of the hour.

I poured the champagne, made sure everyone was in front of the TV, and sure enough, at 8pm straight up...

This reaction from the crowd in Chicago's Grant Park still puts a lump in my throat...

My post-election analysis can be found here.

Like I said, I will post my personal critique of Mr. Obama's first year as president in January. Suffice it to say, I'm pleased and displeased depending on the issue. But I wouldn't take back that vote for anything. I'm proud of what my country did a year ago. And I think, deep down, my fellow Americans are just as proud.