Happiness in Obamaca

The economy might be crashing, automakers are seeking government aid (hey why not? Let’s just socialize them!), and Obama is set to reverse certain executive orders that will be a definite set-back for those of us who care about bioethics, but WHATEVER.

People here are super-happy. But serious too. I actually walked down toward Grant Park on Election Eve on my way to a party for the, uh, other side (which was, ironically, literally ON the other side of the street), and felt myself enveloped by the smiles and general good mood.

If I was a sophomore in college, I might say the experience was “surreal” — and hey it really was!

After at least six years of Bush-hatred and people who angrily disdained the American flag because Bush was prez and the GOP was in charge, I walked past street vendors happily hawking t-shirts (‘Yes We Did” T-shirts! Two for Ten!), and cardboard fans sporting Barack’s smiling face. American flags were passed out to children, who waved them un-ironically. People sweeping behind me discussed how it was their first time voting, or it was their friend’s first time voting.

“This is the closest this country will ever get to revolution,” said one young man. (I hope so, I thought.)

There were happy giggles. It felt like the Fourth of July, except a more patriotic Fourth than I’ve actually ever experienced in Chicago. And overall there was an extreme and surprising sense of CALM.

It was in a way extremely refreshing to see so many people engaged in the political process, but so very, very sad to know that the man in whom they had invested such “hope” for “change” is, after all, a pretty typical socialist. I was reminded of the Evita museum in Buenos Aires, which commemorated a woman who  was revered almost religiously for giving out welfare from the back of a truck  (and yes, yes, she died tragically young…but so do lots and lots of people.)

Lane said below that we’ll survive… I hope so. We must remember that even in a terrible year for Republicans, McCain got 46% of the popular vote. And I don’t think that’s just from racists.

I’m happy Obama won, in a way. The best teacher, they say, is experience. May we learn lots the next few years.  And can everyone finally accept that we ARE post-racial?  (Though I suspect a Michael Steele or Condi Rice election would not have produced the same weeping reactions from Jesse Jackson and others.)

But for now I’m going to enjoy the good mood, even if I can’t share it. And I’m going to savor the last couple months of having a president who, though I disagreed with how infrequently he used the veto pen the first 6 years and some other things he did or didn’t do, has worked to keep our country free of attack since 9/11. Thank you, Mr. President.

Who else thinks Chicago will be a MAJOR target now?

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