So the day had finally come. It was about a week and a half ago, Super Tuesday they called it. I went about my early morning routine: checking email, doing some work, mapping out my plan for the rest of the day. My computer clock displayed 11:00 a.m…time for me to get a move on..time to get to the polls. Living only 5 minutes from the elementary school, I was standing in front an election worker in no time flat. Surprisingly, I was pretty calm. I thought I would (or should) feel much more excited.
Then I experienced an emotion I hadn’t expected–panic. Why you ask? The election volunteer told me she couldn’t find my name on the voter registry. She asked me to repeat my first name, last name, and middle name. I repeated the information slowly. She asked if I was sure that I had registered, when had I registered, and where did I register. At this point, I am answering the questions while my mind is racing and trying to figure out if I had made some mistake. I clearly remember registering to vote when I switched my license from Illinois to Georgia last year and I remember receiving information in the mail about the polling location (granted I threw out the postcard and I had to look up the school address online…less paper, more bandwidth).
The election worker talks to another volunteer, although she is not whispering, I can’t hear her because I can only hear my own voice screaming in my head, “I can’t believe this sh*t. Maybe if I had called a couple of weeks ago to verify, I wouldn’t be in this situation now!” Then paranoia starts to creep in…is this one of those situations where people are illegally prevented from voting? Yes, I am in the South and all the elections volunteers are white, but they seem pretty nice…maybe my name was taken off without their knowledge and they are just doing their job. Oh my God, am I going to miss the election of my life? (Ok, so it’s the PRIMARY of the election of my life.)
“We found it. I am sorry, we’ve had problems getting information from some DMV offices.” I immediately calm again and march toward the election booth. Pleasant anticipation starts to mount as I quickly read the directions for using the electronic voting system…now I am absolutely giddy. So I click NEXT (or READY or whatever it says, having a background in IT and spending alot of time with computer applications, I just look a button on the bottom of the page to advance). As I scan the page, I see something about candidates for the Presidency…there are about 5 or 6 names, all of which are blur until I see it…BARACK OBAMA.
Pride. Joy. Euphoria. Smiling broadly, I carefully select Obama as my choice and savor the moment.
Although logically, I knew Obama becoming President would be historical, the real emotions have just recently hit me. The funny thing is I was familiar with Barack because of the scandal-filled Illinois race in which Barack won his Senate seat and when he gave a speech/introduction of Bill Clinton at the 2004 Democratic convention (I remember hearing some reports that Hillary was upset that she was not chosen). I started paying attention to the Democratic race last year, and after hearing Barack speak, I was immediately on board because I knew he was what the country needed…a President who is not divisive, is not driven by special interests, and is not power-hungry. Incredibly, he somehow inspires and motivates people to believe in government (and themselves) and become engaged in politics (I have contributed $25 three separate times, made phone calls and canvassed neighborhoods for the campaign). The fact that he was Black was secondary.
After John Edwards bowed out, I had an image of Barack being the President and Michelle being the First Lady…I was taken back…I was blown away. Could this really happen? As ecstatic and amazed as I was, I know it does not compare to the emotions felt by elder African-Americans who were living at a time when a person of color could not drink from the same water fountain as a white person. The time has come. We would have a man who heals America and puts this nation back on track to fulfill our greatness…and have a black President at the same time! I am smiling now as I think about it….