Crossing the Chasm

by francine Hardaway on November 5, 2008

I stood in the middle of the ballroom at the Obama Election Night party and bawled. My brother called, my daughters called, the text messages kept on coming, and I bawled.

I knew I was standing at a crossroads of history. The fight my father started when he tried to make Las Vegas hotels allow the African-Americans who performed there (his friends and clients) sleep and eat in those same hotels is over.

 The marches on Washington, the barricades in the streets, my classmates who died trying to register black voters — it's over.

But something else is also over.

Secrecy in government is over. The enormous success of Barack Obama's online campaign efforts trumps even his success in overcoming racial divides.

Voters were mobilized who were never mobilized before.

In downtown Phoenix last night, the entire first floor of the Wyndham Hotel, the Democratic headquarters, was dominated by Latino voters yelling "si se puede," black voters bringing their babies and children to watch a historic moment, and young people celebrating the way young people always do — by getting drunk:-)

My son's fiancee, barely 21, voted for the first time and was so high after doing so that she texted all her friends to make them go out and vote, too.

 Young people voted. The internet brought  them, and unlike in previous years, the internet kept them motivated and in touch until they actually showed up at the polls, waited in the lines with all the smelly old people, and actually cast a vote.

And now they will hack the systems that keep the Hank Paulsons of the world in charge of our destinies, bailing out their friends and mangling our personal finances. I know my geeks; they will get it done. Transparency in government. I will see it in my life time.

 John McCain knew it. He stood at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, built during the last Great Depression and traditionally home to the rich, white infrastructure of Arizona, and congratulated Obama graciously. He knew it was over for people like him. In his concession speech, he was more like the McCain I used to admire; tolerant, intelligent, and calm. What happened to him during this campaign? Handlers, maybe. Sarah Palin, maybe. And just a horde of generations pushing behind him, maybe.

I wake up to a different world.  A world in which the Taliban want to negotiate and Pakistan could be our friend. We are once again the United States of America.

I'm so glad to be alive.  Personally, I'm wiped out by the last eight years, but I don't care. Some things are bigger than I am, and bigger than life, and I just lived to see one of them.

Toot, 'ya did good.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Wines November 5, 2008 at 6:06 am

Francine, you made me cry with that last line. Thanks so much. And, what a unique perspective of the role of the Internet in bringing transparency to government. I certainly hope so, and look forward to ALL of it.

Steven Groves November 5, 2008 at 7:06 am

Francine, I have always appreciated your perspectives and you and I are perfectly aligned on this one as to the Obama era ushering in a change in the way we connect and communicate with our government. I’ve talked with government workers before who never thought they could / should reach out and connect with their stakeholders using social media – I’ll bet that changes now.

Mark Anthony Dyson November 5, 2008 at 7:34 am

Thank you for your post. I too, was a teen in the 70’s. I moved from NY to Tampa in ’73 at a time when the majority of my classmates were white, and felt free to call me anything they wanted. I do feel an extra shot of redemption and another tool for my boys to use to increase their faith.

Francine hardaway November 5, 2008 at 8:47 am

Tampa must have been pretty grim. I remember driving to Florida with my dad and having them give him a speeding ticket because he was a New York Jew in a Cadillac. We were a pretty discriminatory nation back then.

Aruni November 6, 2008 at 6:38 am

What a great post. What a great individual. I’m still just emotinally spent by the events that have just transpired. I don’t know what to do with myself! :-)

Dan Celovsky November 6, 2008 at 7:02 am

We are on the same page.

In my county (Oregon) in MO, it went heavily McCain. Only 20,000 folks, extremely rural and hillbilly (even was a riot in nearby Jonesboro AR over this). It is 100% white. I have the Obama lawn sign and bumper sticker and worked for the local campaign office. Tensions are high here. But they should be, as the nonsense over race seems to be taking its last kicks as it passes into history.

Like everywhere else, the younger folks here for the most part went for Obama (along with some 25% of the people). It was tough supporting Obama, and I am encouraged that not everyone here is an idiot.

There is your “report” from the Ozarks. SHAZZAM !!!!!!!!!!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: