Friday, November 9, 2012

The Taste of Victory!

Well, it goes without saying that I was elated by the Democratic victory on last Tuesday night. I attended the watch party (which I had dubbed “victory party” even before the returns were in) at Kahler Hall with a roomful of Howard County Democratic luminaries. There, before two big screen televisions, we saw history take shape. We saw the first African American President of the United States re-elected for the first time. (I know, he can’t be elected again but…well you know what I mean).

I have spent the majority of the campaign confident that Obama would win, but having this nagging thought in my head ….what if he loses. Maybe the ongoing 24-hour news cycle was getting to me. This campaign  was so micro-analyzed that on election morning, reporters from MSNBC were trying to guess what percentage of the vote would go to Obama in the Red States, as well as what percentage would go to Romney in the Blue States.  I felt that that type of babble added nothing to the narrative. Consequently, that is when I stopped watching, and put myself into a “non-political bubble”, until we went to Kahler Hall for the celebration.  My wife had a taste for fresh seafood, so we drove  all the way down to the waterfront in DC. While driving we only played music from my I-Pod, which was guaranteed not to have any political ads. I just wanted to decompress before the onslaught of information that would be coming my way later that evening.

What I realized before the polls started closing was that Democrats were a little “nervous” about this election.  Maybe nervous is a little harsh, but I never heard the resounding confidence that the President would be re-elected throughout the campaign. The fact that he is an incumbent did not seem to “protect” him. Like I have said before, his elimination of Osama Bin-Laden was enough for him to earn re-election for me, but other Dems that I have talked to did not share that sentiment. There was never any credence given to the fact that Romney was running a horrible campaign. Before the first debate, his campaign was in a freefall.  He was constantly shooting himself in the foot…..or putting that same foot in his mouth.  He was about to be abandoned by the GOP. Then the President gave him a chance, when Obama decided that his 20th Anniversary was more important than “showing up” to a debate. After which Romney’s poll numbers soared, albeit artificially. Fortunately, the next debates were great for Obama. But no one ever forgot the first one, and Romney’s poll numbers remained uncomfortably close.  They remained close up until election day.I was concerned that the country was about to select a leader…..on his ability to debate.

As numbers started filling up the screens in Kahler Hall, Romney was actually briefly ahead in the Electoral College. Many people in the room felt uneasy, and they were asking me questions like, “do you think Obama is still going to win?” “Of course” I assured them…even as CBS was telling us that Ohio was too close to call. At this point in the evening, Pennsylvania was still too close to call. “I thought we had those two states in the bag” I thought to myself.  The butterflies in the pit of my belly were starting to flutter. “Maybe this thing isn’t guaranteed”, I thought.

As always with these elections, the excitement increased as the evening got later. As soon as Ohio went to the President, I heard one of our luminaries declare “It’s over!”  Polls started closing across the country, seemingly quickly, as the electoral votes started to add up and the President pulled ahead. The excitement in the room was palpable. Then, at about 11:30pm, I saw the first graphic flash over CNN, declaring that the President had been re-elected. The room erupted in loud cheers and applause. We had done it. All of a sudden all of the phone call, all of the messages left, all of the “hang-ups” that we tolerated, all of the door knocking, all of the travels to Virginia, all seemed worth it. It really seemed worth it, after even Virginia also turned blue……..again!

It turned out to be an impressive victory. 303 electoral votes so far, not counting Florida, which still has not declared a winner. Mr. Obama even pulled ahead in the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.Not the landslide that I had hoped for...but impressive nonetheless. Like I had said in previous blog, I think voters remembered the “47%comment”, as well as many other mistakes of the Romney campaign, and chose to remain with the incumbent. Although I thought the President would win anyway, I think he was greatly assisted having Hurricane Sandy one week before the election.  The fact that he was pictured being presidential…..otherwise doing the job that he was hired for….also helped. Was it a coincidence or Divine intervention? Maybe it was both!

I must say that Mr. Romney was very gracious in his concession speech. It seemed that he took “forever” to come out and make it. There were reports that he wanted a recount of the votes in Ohio. The nightmarish picture of that guy in Florida looking at hanging chads, during the 2000 debacle, flashed in my mind. But he came out, and wished the President well. Mr. Romney’s seemingly endless quest to become President of the United States had ended. A quest unfulfilled, a dream denied….a campaign in shambles. (credit cards cancelled)

Mr. Obama’s acceptance speech was eloquent as always. Although I did not think that it was as powerful as the one given at Grant Park in Chicago in 2008, it was just as effective. (…just no crying Oprah this time…..) I think that we are accustomed to President Obama now. He has set a high standard for himself as well as the office of President. It will be of utmost interest to follow him during his second administration. It will be interesting to see the impact that he will leave on the country. I left Kahler Hall feeling good about our selection, feeling good about our efforts, and feeling good about the forward direction of our nation. 

Congratulations Mr. President.

Now let’s fix this fiscal cliff thing……

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