Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oh What A Night

If you wrote a script that told the story of what happened last night, people would have said it was too far fetched and it could never happen. And that people aren't buying political scripts.

But last night really happened. And it went almost exactly the way we hoped it would.

After all, hope is what the Obama campaign was all about. And where there's laughter, there's hope. So when people ask political comedians like myself which candidate would be better for comedy, I tell them "Country First. Comedy Second."

I spent the hours leading up to and following Obama's victory co-hosting the Election Night coverage on WFUV Radio in New York. My wife Ruth sat in the newsroom with mostly Obama supporters who tried to suppress their growing enthusiasm out of respect for journalistic integrity. As a comedian, not a journalist, I whooped it up off air in a slightly restrained way, as each Obama state was announced. On the air, I saw the AP flash appear at the bottom of the Associated Press "wire". It said simply, "Obama wins Presidency".

After George Bodarky, WFUV news director announced the big news, I talked about a friend of my wife and I who recently moved here from Gabon in Africa, where my wife served in the Peace Corps. I repeated what she told my wife moments earlier.

"This is the America I came here for."

As anxious as we all were about this election, we now feel relieved. First, there was no Bradley Effect. Second, the Bradley Effect only happened twice, and hopefully will never manifest itself again. And finally, Obama won states that Democrats haven't won for a long time. And rural white voters helped make that happen.

Here in New York, the Democrats control the Governor's office and the State Senate and Assembly for the first time since 1935. The President that year was FDR. And hopefully, the Obama Presidency will bring us a 2009 version of The New Deal.

It would have been a perfect night if Al Franken had won. Although he still might after the recount. Most candidates have to defend their votes. Franken had to defend his jokes. And ran an admirable campaign. That Senate seat belonged to Paul Wellstone, who was killed tragically and somewhat mysteriously right before the last election in 2002. Wellstone was a passionate progressive who is the role model for the way our leaders should be. And he was my wife's political science professor at Carleton College. Hopefully the recount will replace Norm Coleman, who was a very unworthy successor to Wellstone.

Barack Obama achieved the greatest happiness of his life last night. Just days after the woman who helped shape his life, his grandmother, passed away. But the AP flashed this bit of news as well. His grandmother's absentee ballot was going to count, because her death certificate was filed after the ballot was received.

So even after her death, Barack Obama's grandmother's voice was heard.
And for the first time in a long, long time, our voices were heard too.

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