In case anyone noticed, three months ago I stopped posting to The Ordinary Potato. As I had written a short time earlier, there was too much noise. It would have been almost impossible to be heard over the clatter. And, I realized that I really didn’t have much to say that wasn’t being said somewhere by someone. I also realized that the whole election was too close up. Too much in my face. From day to day, hour to hour, I checked the polls, checked Huffpost and Politico and even Drudge for some hint of what was happening, the latest bad news, the rare good news. But I was too close to see. How could I get far enough above it all to see the patterns and waves that eventually enveloped our country. So I stopped writing. Toward the end it seemed I was clicking on RealClearPolitics every few minutes, my heart sinking and rising as the spread narrowed and then broadened again. . .
. . .until the night of my 65th birthday, when I stood with my wife and daughter and her fiance and 200 thousand more in Grant Park and shared the wave of excitement when Barack won Virginia and then the incredible moment when the West Coast polling places closed and instantly CNN and all the rest declared Barack had been elected. There was a wave of palpable emotion, laughter, tears, shouts, hugs and then the huge crowd became hushed as Senator McCain gave his gracious concession speech. If he had found that voice, or rather, not lost it two years ago, this would have been a much closer race. And then after interminable sets of recorded music, blasted so loud I had to stick my fingers in my ears, and then a bishop, and then finally, the President-elect.
He did not deliver a stem-winder, he did not rouse the crowd to manic joy, but was calm and deliberate. Close reading of his speech confirms how different he is from his opposition. Aside from McCain’s considerate words of concession, all that is left in memory of McCain’s remarks is the number of times he used fighting language. But Barack set a different tone; his language echoed his previous themes, and almost eerily echoed the language of Martin Luther King’s last speech. And then the crowd headed home, joyous, spent, and ready to begin again. Everything changed that night, and nothing changed. There were still homeless begging on the streets as we walked to our cars. The stock market continued its deep slide the next day, after an election day respite.
But now it is Friday, Huffpost’s Offthebus announced that it was ending; its long run of citizen commentary over, at least in this guise. So now, still exhausted and dazed, I am picking up my pen (metaphorically, of course,) and beginning again. Perhaps, in a less frenzied world I will find somethings unique to say, or at least a little different. But for now, let us all rest and prepare to watch closely as the new day dawns.