Wednesday, November 12, 2008

'The world is a different place'

Election night was an exciting time at American University. I worked until after eight at my office, then went to my apartment for a quick dinner and then to AU’s central gathering place for students, “The Tavern.” There were television sets everywhere on the student first floor, but I knew the Tavern was where the action would be. The large room was filled to overflowing with students, a small number of campus life staff-members and only one other faculty member - or at least one that I could see in the mob. A giant screen was tuned to CNN. Whenever a result favorable to Obama was reported, the room would break into cheers. If there were McCain supporters in the room, they were invisible - and inaudible.

When the Ohio returns were posted, the cheers were almost deafening - we could now be almost certain that Obama had won. The results were soon followed by Pennsylvania - or did Pennsylvania come first? Anyhow the suspense was over. Most stayed to watch the President elect’s victory speech and Senator McCain’s gracious concession speech, but I had a full day of work ahead and returned to my apartment. My feelings were the same as many - elation at a historic event, joy that the hard work of an able and good man had paid off, relief that the George W. Bush years would soon be over, hope mingled with trepidation about the road that lay ahead. ‘Great Expectations” was the title of This week’s Economist issue that greeted me at my home in the country.

What is most remarkable about the election was the reaction around the world. I could experience this vicariously when I spoke with my daughter, who had recently returned to the US after a public service trip to South Africa. The country was ago with excitement, she reported, with many many young people wearing Obama tee shirts.

I look forward to traveling internationally once again and not having to contemplate conversations about my country’s President and foreign policy that are an embarrassment.


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