UPI Photo/Pat Benic
After getting my learner’s driving permit at 16, the next age-related milestone I was looking forward to was being able to vote. Two years later I was finally able to cast a ballot, and I exercised my civic duty by wading into the toxic waters of my home state’s politics. I cast my votes for governors, senators, and congressional representatives, on several occasions writing in my mother as a candidate when none of the official nominees appealed to me. But I wanted to be a part of something bigger, something that went beyond my local concerns. I wanted to elect a president.
I finally got my chance in 2008. On November 4 of that year I cast my ballot along with 131 million other Americans. I tried to feel excited that day, but it had not been my best week. I had gotten dumped by a thoughtless, immature jerk a few days before, and I was struggling to extricate myself from a simultaneous relationship with a lying, abusive jerk. My experiences with the both of them were tied up in this election: one was the spitting image of Barack Obama, minus twenty years, while the other was a staunch John McCain fan who wanted to turn the election night results into a sexual roulette.
I kept the news on all that night, trying and failing to get any work done. And then at 11 o’clock, right after the polls on the West Coast closed, the news anchors proclaimed the good news: Obama was our next president.
And suddenly I was excited again: I ran out of my apartment and dashed down to Broad Street, Philadelphia’s main road. Cars were driving by slowly, honking their horns and waving Obama campaign signs out of the window. Soon hundreds of people were in the streets – people of all colors and ages, singing and dancing, shaking tambourines and banging on pots.
Around midnight Obama took over the airwaves to give his acceptance speech, and everyone huddled around a car that had its radio on. The whole street was silent listening to our new president, and as I heard his powerful voice I thought, I helped bring this about. Suddenly those two men in my life, and the things they had done to me, didn’t matter so much. They didn’t have any power over me. I had the power to change a nation.
Girl Museum Inc.