Election Night Musing
By Horace Coleman
November 5, 2008
Late Tuesday afternoon (about 4:30 PST) I had some errands to run. I took my Walkman with me. First I went to the post office to mail a package, some letters and buy stamps. Radio reception is bad there so I didn't take my Walkman.
The returns had just started coming in before I turned off the car radio. Only two states' returns were in and Obama had a slight lead in electoral votes.
When I got back into my car after my postal business, I drove to the supermarket. Before I got out of my car, Pennsylvania had been projected as being won by Obama. By the time I'd left the supermarket and put my groceries in the car, Ohio was projected as being won by Obama. Before I'd left the supermarket parking lot, Obama was projected as winning the election. By 8 P.M,, west coast time, the West Coast states' votes were tallied. And, it was all over-by projection.
Back at home, I heard ABC-TV's tally while putting groceries away. I saw Jesse Jackson's tears and watched Obama's speech in Chicago's Grant Park. Florida? Won that too?! Virginia!? I saw people chanting and yelling in happiness on D.C.'s Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, disturbing George Bush's sleep.
Obama's campaign had raised more money than McCain's, been better organized, attracted more fervent and active followers and supporters. And, appealed to the young, the educated, the working class, the Hillary supporters, the middle class, the affluent, different ethnic groups.
I thought about some factors that led to McCain's defeat:
* It's still the economy, stupid!!
* Sex / money scandals involving GOP politicians
* More people "support" the troops than become a troop in wars that have lasted longer than World War II. Never have so few sacrificed so much for so many uncaring.
* The war in Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism in many peoples' minds and is unpleasant, expensive and unresolved. While Afghanistan has gotten little attention, the Taliban has regained some strength and the war has seeped into Pakistan.
* While you're fighting costly wars is not the time to cut taxes, BushCo
* You can't vote with your party 90% of the time and be a maverick, McCain
* Sarah Palin is not yet ready for political prime time. She couldn't name one newspaper she read? Her abstinence only approach to sex education kept her oldest daughter from becoming pregnant only until she was 18?
* The size of the government and the national debt ballooned under BushCo. The GOP stands for small government and balanced budgets?
* It's hard to win an election when you spend more time tearing down your opponent than selling yourself
* If all your years in Congress and the Senate haven't produced much significant legislation, what good is all your experience?
* More countries in the world are capable of producing, and eating, our "lunch"
* Veterans who know McCain's voting record on issues related to veterans can't believe him when he says he'll "take care" of them
* The U.S. has the world's highest ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay
* High black and young voter turnout
* Latino voters gave less support to a Republican candidate and more to a Democratic one
* The registration of many new voters, who voted Democratic
* Moderates, Catholics, Jews, union households and Independents voted for Obama
* The public was tired of Republican rhetoric and excesses and wanted a changed reality
Now it's time for me to savor this turn in the U.S. road for a moment. Remember the stories and comments I heard election night. I can forget about McCain's health / longevity and stop wondering how long it would take him to start another war.
The sun won't rise in the west tomorrow and there will still be dirty dishes in my sink, but tonight I'll eat some sushi rolls, take a few bites of wheat baguette, have another glass of wine, and sleep soundly.
Let's try for better manners and behavior and more honesty. Too many people too easily believed all the Internet rumors and outrageous attacks about Obama. A socialist / communist, anti-white stealth Muslim who wasn't an American citizen (if you believed the rumors)?
Like there's something automatically wrong with every Muslim. Like Obama and McCain didn't agree on more than they disagree about.
As if there aren't fundamentalist, Born Again, Christian GOPhers who are willfully ignorant, narrow minded, racist, violent, sexist, homophobic, intolerant, eager to mind (and control) other people's business and morals. And, want to hurry God's schedule for Armageddon.
The hard work begins. Obama will get grayer but change has begun. I wish him, and the nation, good luck. Maybe I'll think about that conversation I had with a fellow Nam vet after a small meeting of veterans this summer before I fall asleep. For what it's worth, he's white and I'm black.
Our conversation had turned to politics. I'd said "I'm going to vote for Obama but not because he's black. Being black isn't enough. You have to be qualified."
"I'm going to vote for him too--but not because he's black" he said.
We each were cool with the other's statement. We knew what we meant and what we wanted.
With Obama's election--at least for a short while--race doesn't mean exactly what, or quite as much, as it did yesterday. "Post racial" my behind, though!
The GOP betrayed its roots. It played down and dirty. Now it's down and its brand is dirty. It needs a change for the betterment of the nation, not partisan politics. To stop being obstructionist and overbearing--dogs in the manger when out of power and arrogant ideologues when in power.
The Democrats need to exercise well the power they've gained--the presidency, more seats in the Senate and the House. To be focused, cohesive and forceful but justified. We all, the politicians and the citizens, have the nation's work to do. "Heaven" is still where it was--not here.
By the way, ABC on election night tallied Obama voters this way: White, 61%; Latino, 11%; black 24%.
For the diehards who still have doubts about the qualifications and ability of Obama and his organization: They thoroughly and justifiably kicked your ass. You brought the wrong product to the marketplace. Forget the antichrist and conspiracy theories. What you tried to sell wasn't wanted. Or needed. It's not about eating humble pie or a new and improved same ol', same ol'. Try some sincerity, grace and wisdom. A little compromise wouldn't hurt. Or, even doing something tangibly positive for your base, maybe even the nation.
It's down to basics now for many in "the real America": Rent and mortgage payments, food, utilities, car payments and repairs and other things most people took for granted. Frivolous ideology takes second place to "the necessities" of daily living.
PS: It wouldn't hurt to stop being so grandiose, hypocritical and careless while throwing boulders in your glass houses. But we all know the essential nature of many GOPhers won't change much--if at all.
PPS: There are rumors that other people value their families too and God might even let a few of them into heaven (on a trial basis).
Horace Coleman is a California based essayist / poet. He's a university professor, public information officer, technical writer, proposal writer / editor, community college instructor. Vietnam veteran.
(A slightly different version of this piece was published at the web site OpEdNews at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Election-Night-Musing-by-Horace-Coleman-081105-433.html )
Commentary on VVAW.org:
- We Have To Be Winter Soldiers by Bill Branson
- Fascism is Not an Option by Vietnam Veterans Against the War National Office
- Is This Who We Are? by W. D. Ehrhart
- Why We Struggle by Bill Branson
- We Must Continue the Fight for a Better World! by Bill Branson
- Into Another Rich Man's War (VVAW Statement on Potential War with Iran) by VVAW
- Forever Wars Demand Forever Opposition by Bill Branson
- From the National Office by Joe Miller
- The River Keeps Flowing by VVAW
- The Struggle Continues by Joe Miller
- VVAW Still Teaching the American War in Vietnam: On Burns/Novick "The Vietnam War" by Joe Miller
- 50 Years of VVAW by Joe Miller
- For Peace, Justice, and Veterans Rights by Bill Branson
- The Importance of Vietnam and VVAW: Then and Now by Bill Branson
- Veterans Fight Back by Bill Branson
- From the National Office by Bill Branson
- No New War in the Middle East by Bill Branson
- From the National Office by Bill Branson
- Our War, Our Legacy by Bill Branson
- From the National Office by Bill Branson
- Get Out and Vote: Demonstrate Our People Power by Bill Branson
- What We Know and When We Know It by Meg Miner
- From The National Office by Bill Branson
- Blood on the Tracks - A Review by Horace Coleman (reviewer)
- From The National Office by Joe Miller
- Ken and Bill's Excellent Adventure by W. D. Ehrhart
- From the National Office by Barry Romo
- From the National Office by Barry Romo
- Soldier Jailed For Rap Lyrics Is Discharged by Dahr Jamail, truthout.org Reporter
- US Military Plans To Extradite Stop-Lossed Iraq War Vet to Iraq For Court Martial Over Protest Rap Song by Iraq Veterans Against The War
- A Letter to America: No Medal Jacket by Marc Levy
- The Worst Question You Can Ask a Combat Vet: Talking Dirty to the Kids by Marc Levy
- From Vietnam to Afghanistan: The Bling They Curse and Carry by Marc Levy
- The "Obama Drama" by Horace Coleman
- Matthew Hoh Resignation Letter by Matthew Hoh
- Just Like Hanoi Jane by Marc Levy
- Winter Soldier Iraq and Afghanistan (the book) by Horace Coleman
- How What Happened in the Bush Administration Shaped What Happened in Iraq by Horace Coleman
- A Father traumatized by a son's wounds goes into action by Horace Coleman
- All Bets Are Off For Today's Vets by Horace Coleman
- Election Night Musing by Horace Coleman
- War Jokes Wanted: No Laughing Matter by Marc Levy and Susan Erony
- The Leftie Nation Throws a Rightie by Jerry Lembcke
- Thuy's Dream of Peace: Winter in America by Marc Levy
- Retraction of Article in the Veteran, Volume 38, Number 1, Spring 2008 by VVAW National Office
- Support PFC James Burmeister by Carol Rawert Trainer
- Support IVAW's Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan
- Fake Vets Chasing Fame by Marc Levy
- William Hugh Davis: 1948 - 2007 - Anti-war, union activist by Patricia Trebe
- President of Vietnam Vets Against the War - Year-long tour convinced him it was wrong by Larry Finley
- You Tube videos of Bill Davis
- Iraq Dead Ahead: A Brief Military History and Civilian Guide to Arlington National Cemetery Iraq Dead Ahead by Marc Levy
- The Horror of War Can be Catnip for Young Men by Jerry Lembcke
- Iraq War Resister Kyle Snyder Arrested in Canada, then Released: U.S. Army Requested the Illegal Apprehension by Gerry Condon
- Vietnam Veterans Against The War Endorses HR 508:Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2007 by VVAW National Office
- VVAW Supports All the Troops
- A Primer on the Whys and Wherefores of PTSD: Whatever You Did in War Will Always Be With You by Marc Levy
- What the Fuss Is All About by W. D. Ehrhart
- Winter Soldier DVD Now Available at VVAW Store
- From Vietnam to Iraq: Ignoring the Veteran Healthcare Crisis by VVAW & IVAW
- Vietnam Veterans and Iraq Veterans Release Memorial Day Report on Veterans' Healthcare Crisis by VVAW National Office
- VVAW Statement to the People of Vietnam by VVAW National Office
- Vietnam Veterans Against the War Denounce Bush Proposal to Cut Vets' Benefits by VVAW National Office
- The Struggle Continues by VVAW
- Stolen Honor - A Dishonor: Vietnam Veterans oppose Sinclair Broadcast smear even in reduced format by VVAW National Office
- A Troubling Tribute by Jan Barry
- Defending VVAW Against Swift Boat Vets Lies by Keith Nolan
- 40th Anniversary of Gulf of Tonkin shows history repeating itself with Iraqi War by VVAW National Office
- Anybody But Bush by VVAW National Staff and Coordinators
- Vietnam Veterans Say Torture Policy Not an Aberration - Dates Back To Vietnam War by VVAW National Office
- Chicago Vietnam Veterans Against the War and supporters honor fallen servicemen on Memorial Day by Chicago VVAW
- Vietnam Veterans Against the War Statement on John Kerry
- John Kerry and War Crimes in Vietnam by Jan Barry
- Living with Lies by Dave Curry, Joe Miller and Barry Romo
- On the Oil-Slicked Road to Empire: Are We Really Safer Now? by Barry Romo, Dave Curry & Joe Miller
- No War with Iraq No Blood for Oil or Ego by Barry Romo, Dave Curry & Joe Miller
- Vietnam Veterans Against the War Statement on the "War Against Terrorism" by VVAW National Office
- Vietnam Veterans Against the War Statement on September 11 Attacks by VVAW
- VETERANOS DE VIETNAM CONTRA LA GUERRA DECLARACION SOBRE LOS ATAQUES DEL 11 DE SEPTIEMBRE
- VVAW Statement on Robert Kerrey by Clarence Fitch Chapter of VVAW
- Remembering the Tonkin Gulf and After by Joe Miller
- Indian Wars & the Vietnam Experience by Ben Chitty
- Recollections:Brainwashing Busts Out at Cecil Field by Mike Woloshin
- "Peace with Honor" by Ben Chitty