Wednesday, November 05, 2008

our new president

Tuesday was Andy's birthday, but also a school/work night, so we celebrated with a quiet and yummy family supper and cheesecake. Fiona and Alex gave him identical cards (which I think is good luck). He also received birthday greetings from friends and family, in the mail, by text message, and phone call. We'll have a nice supper out on the weekend, to make it a "stretch birthday."

It was also Election Night, so in between driving Fi to rehearsal and picking her up, we mostly watched the voting results coming in on TV. Living on the West Coast, the election pretty much unfolds itself through the afternoon and evening. So I tuned in on the car radio even before I came home from work. From the earliest results, it looked good for the Democrats and Obama. I floated through the day with a Christmas Eve kind of feeling - distracted, excited, a bit scared that I might be surprised with a lump of coal when I was really wishing for something wonderful and good.

It might be surprise to Americans that the US election is so important to us here in Canada. I think it's because whatever happens in the States has a tremendous impact on us here - economically, socially, culturally. Also, I am a dual Canadian-American citizen. Along with my parents (also dual citizens) I participate in the American election process, file America income tax returns, and consider myself a citizen living permanently abroad. I expect always to live in Canada. I have gone to school here. My family and work are here. But my American citizenship means I have rights and obligations that need to be fulfilled. This time especially I was grateful that I have them. I voted in October by absentee ballot, mailed in. I have done this for every US Presidential election since I became and adult.

My first big result-jolt happened as I drove home from dropping Fiona off. It was about 6:45pm Pacific time, and on the radio, the news came in that Ohio belonged to the Democrats. I knew that every president elected has been elected in Ohio. My vote and my parents' votes are in Ohio. Would it work this time? I found myself crying in the car as I drove home. Yes, Ohio. We did it this time.

After that it was a quick hour of acceleration toward the announcement of Obama's win. We watched McCain's gracious concession speech, and Obama's restrained and optimistic victory speech. It was past midnight in Chicago but just after 9 at home so we had time to discuss what it means to us before I had to go pick up Fiona. At the theatre they had received the news during a rehearsal break. Fi was happy too. Outside, driving through the dark, rainy Canadian night, it felt like Christmas, or maybe New Year's Day. I still haven't talked with my parents. They were out at a concert (distracted also, I suspect) and by the time they were home I was asleep.

Now I wonder what it will be like to have Barack Obama as US President. Living in Canada, I am hopeful he will take action to pull US soldiers out of Iraq and shift toward supporting rebuilding and recovery in Afghanistan. I hope he will do what's needed to help the US and the world weather the financial crisis. I know that his social programs will not turn America into a communist state. Hey, I live in Canada. Tommy Douglas turned us all into socialists years ago, and we like it. I trust that his stand on abortion won't mean a free-for-all on late-term pregnancy termination, but an honouring of the rights of women and caring for their health and safety. Living in Canada, I know for sure also, that respecting the rights of gay and lesbian citizens to marry legally will only be another step along the way to a caring and civilized society.

I expect that we'll soon discover that President Obama is not perfect, but I hope that he will be a strong leader who helps his country and the world move in a direction of strength and goodness.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. Happy birthday Andy. I owe you one undivided attention supper without the TV. I think we all just got a very nice present for your birthday.

question: how is the day after feeling for you?

mompoet - elated

2 comments:

Muhd Imran said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDY!!!

Congrats to you and the people of the USA.

You said it well about the new president. Objective and hopeful at the same time. I agree with you totally.

Lynn Valley Girl said...

First of all, a belated wish to Andy!
I think we as Canadians were interested in the the American election knowing that the outcome will have its impact on Canada. We all cheered as Obama won. The cheers were even heard from the fans inside the big Vancouver hockey arena (during a game) when the result of the presidential race was announced. Most people I have spoken to watched his historic acceptance speech.