But as I sit here this morning, still trying to take it all in- I am amazed to think that the day has come when part of Martin Luther King's Dream has come true. Yesterday, the nation as a whole overwhelmingly judged a man based on the content of his character, rather than the color of his skin.
ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH
It was back to DFL Volunteer Headquarters yesterday for one last day of door knocking. Minnesota has same-day registration so there is a potential set of would be voters who may not have made up their minds even yet to vote. The Olmsted County Democratic-Farmer-Labor party was out in force yesterday to persuade them.
In the mid-afternoon, I found myself in Stewartville...about nine miles outside of Rochester. This little town is evocative of hundreds of small towns across the nation...in some ways, it seemed there was no more appropriate place to be yesterday than right in the heartland of the country.
My partner for the day, Diane and I kept working on into the evening. The polls didn't close until 8pm- so if there was a chance we could get one more person out to vote for Obama, Franken, and Walz- it was worth knocking.
And there were a few great moments. In Stewartville, I met a woman coming toward me talking on her cell phone: "Sir?" She said to me, "who are you campaigning for?"
"I'm out for Obama, Al Franken, and Tim Walz- DFL!" I said.
She spoke back into her phone: "Yeah, that's what he said. Walz and Franken. Yeah...I thought I was seeing double. No. No. He's out here right now."
She put the phone to her palm and spoke to me again: "My girl-friend is a Republican. They quit yesterday." She seemed hurt. Almost as if I were cheating or something. I have to admit, I hadn't had a chance to speak with any undecided voters, but it felt good just to be out- keeping the pressure on.
"Well, it ain't over till it's over. So, we're still out today. Good Luck!"
I also met a woman who had voted already. She took great pleasure in telling me about her brother-in-law. A life long Republican, he finally soured on George W. Bush and told his sister-in-law that he had become a "Gopher" (spelled: GOPer)- meaning, a FORMER Republican. I met quite a few voters who had changed party's (at least this once) because of George W. Bush.
In the end, every single person I talked to HAD voted...and Minnesota seems to have kept it's title as the state with the highest voter turnout in the nation. Reports are that 3 million of 3.7 million eligible voters went to the polls yesterday.
When we returned to volunteer headquarters...the place had been cleaned up top to bottom-- it was amazing to think that, a few hours ago, this room had been full of food, coffee, fellowship, energy and a drive to work for this country. Now, the remaining staff and volunteers were sitting in a tired circle...allowing their batteries to recharge a bit before heading over to the Marriott and what we all hoped would be a victory party.
And in the end...well...you know how it ended. What an amazing day for the United States of America and for our friends and allies around the world. I met so many people in England who had great regard and affection for America, but who had wondered for the last eight years what had happened to their old friends and who passionately pinned their hopes on this race. One young British lady said she literally wept for joy this morning.
This may not be a popular sentiment among all Democrats, but John McCain's speech last night was, as one person wrote on a friend's facebook page: a class act. He reached out and found what was best in America and her people. His speech reminds us that this man has been an amazing public servant and who has given so much to his country. One of the benefits of our Democratic Victory will be a chance re-express our admiration for this great American.
The hard work will begin today. We, as American's have just completed a tough and often bitter contest. I am reminded of Winston Churchill's guidelines for waging war and peace. He said: "In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity; in peace, good will."
In the past, when an election has ended we have not always found ways to achieve both Magnanimity and Good Will- for the sake of our country, I profoundly hope we can do it now.
Here in Minnesota, we've had some mixed results. Al Franken was trailing Norm Coleman by a mere 800 Votes as of this morning out of 3,000,000 votes cast, that is a razor thin margin. And there will be a recount.
In the sixth district, Michele Bachmann, who first drew fire by pawing George W. Bush during his State of the Union Address in 2007, and who again insulted all of America by declaring that people who didn't agree with her radical right views were somehow UnAmerican, managed to hang on to her seat despite heroic efforts on the part of the DFL to do the nation a great service and send her into political exile.
But here in Minnesota's first district, Tim Walz won handily and will return to Congress. I spoke with fellow blogger Jennifer who remembers that, when she first volunteered for the Olmsted County DFL, their offices were in an empty garage...and a grant from the state headquarters of $75 for a phone line was a huge deal. Tonight, as we gathered in the big beautiful ballroom of the Marriott, I could only take my hat off in respect to these people who have fought so hard and who have made a huge difference to their community.
As for President-Elect Obama- words all but fail me. Comments from friends have been pouring in and popping like celebratory fireworks...I'm tired, amazed, relieved, and happy. And I am so proud of the United States today.