Last night was an amazing night.
I am a white American citizen born in the U.S.A.
I looked it up on the CIA fact book today. We whites still seem to be about 79.96% of the American population - which was supposed to make the election of Barack Obama unlikely, given a history of racism in this country.
My wife is from Tanzania, East Africa. She had permanent residency before we met, but hasn't become a citizen. She can't vote. She's black.
My wife has never been very political. Still, I thought this election was going to get her energized, with Hillary or Barack as positive choices, and the party of Bush as the opposition providing a pretty negative alternative.
I thought this cycle might even motivate her to get her citizenship papers done in time to vote.
My sister-in-law is also staying with us these days. She's not very political either. Or, to the extent my sister-in-law expresses rare political opinions, they are far left radical ideas that make Obama look like a conservative Republican. She can't vote either.
Well, my wife had been basically playing it cool during this whole election,...,acting almost like she didn't really care if Obama won,...,saying she didn't agree with everything he says,....
Don't get me wrong. She did express some joy when he won the primary, but the joy was tempered and there was always some sort of nuance or caveat I seemed to be missing.
Last night, she was glued to the TV. When they called Ohio, I cheered, and said, "That's it. It's over. McCain can't win." But My wife just sat there nervously fretting asking how I could be so sure he won. My sister-in-law was in her room with the door closed.
I tried to show my wife an interactive electoral map online to explain why McCain can't win without either PA or OH, but she wasn't really listening. She just kept expressing this sort of nervous dread - which I found strange, because I thought she didn't care all that much.
When Obama finally hit the 270 mark, my sister-in-law bolted out of her room and my wife and her simultaneously started screaming and crying and hugging one another while jumping up and down. They sobbed for what must have been 30 minutes, just saying over and over, "I don't believe it. Anything's possible."
We called my brother-in-law. Earlier this year, he told me Obama is just another politician, and he doesn't back Obama. He lambasted Obama's support for Israel. He said Obama would make no difference to him or his life. Well, that's not what he said when we called. The first words out of his mouth were, "I don't believe it. Anything's possible. I mean ANYTHING. I really mean ANYTHING."
He went on for a few minutes just babbling about what he meant by "anything". He predicted crime rates will drop this very night, the peace process in the middle east will unfold as a reality, etc....ANYTHING is possible.
My wife said that she is finally motivated to become a citizen. Her vote will count! Anything is possible.
I live with these people. They are my family, and I sometimes forget about race when I'm with them. But last night, I felt so fortunate to have witnessed this events with family who is black. I understand now that all the ways they were 'dissing' Obama was a protection mechanism - a way of preparing for what they thought was going to be inevitable loss. And last night - that amazing night - we all saw - in this unlikely story that is America, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
YES! WE! CAN!