November 5, 2008

The 6AM victory - watching Obama win the election from Amsterdam

There will be approximately one zillion blog posts about the US elections, but what the hell, I'll add mine to the mix.

For a few days I just want to be happy about this. I know, Obama is just a politician. I know that there's no way he's going to come through on all the promises he made, I know that just because he won it doesn't mean that the world is saved and everything is sunshine and roses from here on in. I know all that. However, I am completely caught up in the moment and only have the energy to think of the positives right now.

I met up with a bunch of people last night and watched the election results until about 6am this morning. I was the only American in a room of Dutch, Austrian, and Germans, and we sat in my friend Laura's apartment in the Zeeburg watching CNN & BBC over a couple bottles of wine and beer. Throughout the night I ran between the television and Laura's computer to double-check everything CNN was reporting on various different blogs. When Obama was declared the winner, it was about 5am, and four of us were still awake - me, two Germans, and a Dutch guy.

It was a different type of energy, obviously, than being in a huge crowd of people in New York City. But I have to say, standing in that apartment last night with three Europeans, all of us watching history unfold - that was amazing in its own way. No one would believe Obama had really won until McCain started to give his concession speach. Again, it was very late, we were all feeling slightly loopy from lack of sleep and wine, but we waited anxiously to see the acceptance speech. We killed time by making fun of CNN's holograms and the dry tone of the reporters on the BBC.

However, when Obama started speaking, we all fell silent. During McCain's speech, it was easy to talk back at the television and make comments as he spoke. But while Obama was talking, none of us said a word. It was six in the morning, and I could see lights turning on in other people's apartments as they got up to start their day. Obama's speech was beautiful, and when he was done, the four of us all just kind of looked at each other. One of the Germans started to clap. Then we all started clapping, high-fives were exchanged all around, more wine was opened, more SMS messages were exchanged with our friends in the US.

I replayed the speech this afternoon and felt chills go down my spine when I heard my favorite part again:

Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change.

Today I am exhausted but elated. My friends in New York told me stories of hugging strangers on the street, fireworks, celebrations. My Dutch friends started sending me messages of congratulations early this morning and parties have been going on all night and all morning here in Amsterdam. Obama didn't just win, he won early and by a landslide. I honestly can't remember the last time the entire world was this happy because of something the United States did right.

To all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

It is a really, really good day.


Nomadic Matt said...

i watched his speech three times....go barack!

Justin Wright said...

It's about time America was this psyched about an election. We all know that not everything Obama has promised will happen, but at least we are finally moving in the right direction.

Mr. Glenn said...

Really nice reading your words and picturing the 4 of you watching history... it's a positive change and only good can come from positive energy, bit by bit... :)

Eve said...

Tami, this is beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. Watching the election results is one of the moments you will always remember where you were when it happened. More of these moments are bad than good. We all remember 9/11 and those of my generation and older remember vividly the day JFK was killed.

When did an election last bring people to tears? (Of joy, that is.) This is a common reaction I've been hearing about on the news.

The 2008 election will be remembered as a miraculous night (or early morning!) of goodwill and hope for the United States and our friends around the world.