Having voted with zero hassles at my precinct in Silver Lake, I took a walk in Elysian park at dusk with a friend, a little more anxious than probably I deserved to be about the election. However, as you know with bad dreams, there are often many false wake ups before you actually do wake up and realize it's really over. I wondered if this bad dream was really over. Was the prospect of a new, hopeful morning real?
As the sun set over Los Angeles, though, filling the sky with shades of red, purple and blue and a crescent moon rose over a downtown whose lights glowed warmly, an owl crossed overhead of the path we walked on and settled comfortably in a tree and called out its hoo-hoos. Coyotes yapped playfully in some dark recess of the park. It was a perfect Los Angeles evening and it all seemed like a good portend.
And, of course, as you know now, it was.
Obama's victory is fraught with so much symbolism, a symbolism that is being dissected left, right and black and white as I write. But the racial connotations, and even the political connotations have seemed oddly anachronistic to me for awhile now, or at least since I saw him speak in Denver accepting his party's nomination. Obama transcended race and notions of left and right almost preternaturally. He can't help but be symbolic, but the genius here is that the symbolism in many ways seems, literally, only skin deep, which is as deep as it ever should have been, and why it's such a bloody, tragic disgrace that it has been more for so long. Thank god that's over and we can move on together as men and women, like we've always been and always should have been. We chose — clearly, soberly, and overwhelmingly — the best man. He happened to be black. That speaks volumes.
So, we have awakened from not one, but two long nightmares. That was clear during Obama's gracious, moving and eloquent victory speech which in minutes snapped us out of the false and abominable construct of our racism, but also from the psychosis that has held us in its sway for so long. Of course, the psychosis was 9/11 and his speech, to me, heralded the end of the 9/11 era, one that turned so rapidly from unity to division to a form of mass hysteria over the past seven years. Finally, though, fear lost. Hope won.
I couldn't help but think that it didn't have to be this way, we could have done so much better, should have done so much better and would have done so much better had we chosen better eight years go. We chose well this day. We chose to shed our petty identifications and taxing fears and to step bravely to the huge tasks ahead. Somewhat lost in the shuffle is the quiet vindication of Howard Dean that this election also represents. Obama's campaign used the Dean playbook of youth, technology, viral marketing, grassroots fundraising and fight in every corned to win his landslide and redraw the electoral map.
On the stage in Grant Park in Chicago, it was clear in his presence and demeanor that we chose the man best suited for the daunting tasks that lay ahead of us. Not for a single second did Obama seem smaller than the huge job ahead of him. There is much to repair and we're all going to have to work together to do the repairing and I really believe he will be able to enlist even the doubters in the job ahead.
John McCain said as much in his gracious concession speech. If he had ran as this man instead of the Rovian Frankenstein's Monster he did run as, he would have been a more formidable opponent. Too bad his graciousness was met with such little grace by those in the crowd at his rally in Phoenix. They'll get onboard. They will wake up. They'll have to, or be left behind. The future is now, folks. You can't hold it off any longer.
Driving home, the blare of celebratory horns filled the air as did chants of “No on 8.” The revelry and passion reminded me that this city is not asleep. Nearly 80 percent of eligible voters are expected to have cast ballots in the County of Los Angeles. Remarkable. Nearing midnight, though, the ban on gay marriage looked like it had a good chance to pass. It will be a bittersweet night if it does pass, a reminder that despite how far we've come, we still have a way to go.