OH WHAT A NIGHT.
Candidate Barack Obama made history in November 2008. That’s true. But what President Barack Obama has done in November 2012 is truly historic. When all is considered, when the story is told, not through the simplistic lens of who won and who lost, America will shudder at revelations revealed by this electoral process, but in the end stand tall in revelry at her ability to stand up against the powerful whose will is, not to live up to the founder’s intent to “form a more perfect union,” but to create a union that “perfectly” suits their purposes.
The Republicans, over the last four years, have used virtually every underhanded tactic imaginable. They’ve lied, they’ve deceived, they’ve cheated, they’ve attempted to make a mockery of the very process that makes this the greatest country in the world. They vowed to obstruct the President, and turned around and attempted to blame him for the slow recovery of our economy. They’ve challenged his birth origin, his citizenship, his legitimacy as President. They’ve challenged his love of America. They’ve call him a liar, a Muslim, they’ve refused to acknowledge any of his accomplishments. Indeed many Republicans, including Romney, have tried to co-op the things he has been able to get done, while at the same time, retreating from their own policies simply because the President embraced them and tried to implement them. They accused President of “palling around with terrorist,” said that “he has apologized for America around the world,” castigated him for attending a church with a radical preacher (is he Muslim or Baptist?) They’ve attacked his wife, and family. They even went after his dog. They didn’t stop with the kitchen sink, they threw the whole damn kitchen at him and he didn’t flinch. He didn’t back down.
The amazing thing about this race, is that it was so close. How, in the face of all the lies, in the face of all the stupid challenges, in the face of all the obstructive tactics by the Republicans, with their attacks on minorities, with their assault on women’s rights, their shifting positions on issues, with their disdain for the LGBT community, their overt attempts to suppress the vote, could anyone have voted for Romney or any of the republicans running for office. It’s amazing to me.
But, in the end, “Oh what a night.”
I was at the Michigan Democratic Headquarters, in the Grand Ballroom at the MGM Grand Hotel, on election night, and there was, remarkable as it may seem, an air of confidence in the room as I arrived, about 8:30. Everyone that I spoke with was upbeat, even as the early returns showed the electoral count favoring candidate Romney. When the polls in the east began to close, the early projections showed the challenger with a 33 to 3 lead, with Romney winning the early vote in the south plus Indiana and the President winning Vermont. Still I didn’t sense any panic among his supporters. There was an energy in the calm, though. There was much on the table with the US Congress elections and several other important down ballot contests and initiatives, that had the attention of the attendee’s.
By 9:00, with more polls beginning to close, more projections had been made. The President had been projected to win all of New England (except New Hampshire, which soon came on board), Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. But with Romney winning Arkansas and Tennessee, CBS News projected that Romney was leading the President in electoral votes 88 to 78. With each state projection there were cheers or boos depending on who won or lost, but there was no panic, just an expectation that everything was going to be just fine.
An hour and a half into the evening you could feel the excitement building inside the room. A little past 9:30 newly re-elected Congressman John Conyers approached the podium to address the crowd and a raucous cheer erupted in the room. Conyers, who had faced a primary challenge after being the victim of redistricting by a republican state legislature that moved him from the 14th district to the newly aligned 13th district handily, defeated Republican challenger Harry Sawacki. (This is another example (alignment of voting districts), a perfect example, of why elections matter. Even down ballot.
After a few words the congressman introduced newly re-elected Senator Debbie Stabenow to the crowd. The crowd went berserk as the Senator took to the podium.
The Senator, armed with the endorsement of the republican-leaning Michigan Farm bureau, easily defeated republican Pete Hoekstra to return to Washington for a third term. Hoekstra, if you’ll remember was widely criticized for running a controversial ad that featured an Asian woman talking in broken english about China taking our American jobs. An ad that even some republicans rebuked as racially tinged and insensitive. He attempted to brand Sen. Stabenow as the “follower-in-chief” because of her relationship with President Obama, and ran numerous negative ads on TV and the internet as he tried to bring her down, but the Senator stayed strong and positive. “I am proud that we stuck with our positive message about what we’ve gotten done for Michigan,” said Stabenow.
As we approached 10:00 we had more projections. Pennsylvania for Obama. Moments later New Hampshire, Wisconsin (so much for the VP home-state bump), and Minnesota. The vote was so close at this point that CNN was projecting Romney ahead by 152 -143, NBC projected Obama ahead 158-153, and Fox News Channel had it as a tie 153 electoral votes a piece.
Between 10 and 11:00 Romney picked up Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, Utah and Montana and there was a slight nervousness in the crowd, but that all went away at 11:00 when the west coast polls closed. Pandemonium broke out in the ballroom when it was announced that California, Washington State, Hawaii, followed by New Mexico and Iowa were going to The President.
The exuberance began to ebb, somewhat, as we became aware that Ohio was pending. At 11:13 NBC announced that President Obama was going to win Ohio and moments later announced Barack Obama would be re-elected President of the United States. As you can imagine the excitement, the energy, the anticipation all came together and the ballroom could not contain it all. It spilled out of the room, down the hallways, throughout the hotel. It was Christmas and New Years eve all wrapped up in one.
I don’t know about you guys, but I was ready for a cigarette. What a night! I wasn’t surprised by the outcome (I had predicted that President Obama would win with 331 electoral votes. He finished with 332). As much as I believed in the President, I also believed in the American People. Yes, the republican party did everything possible to steal this election. Yes, their candidate flip-flopped all over the place and outright lied about himself and the President. But America saw through it all and did the right thing. I wrote in a previous post a thank you to the voters, and I really mean it. There is much yet do and I believe our President is going to get it done, from completing his healthcare initiative to Wall Street reform. We are going to have tax and immigration reform. Hopefully we’ll get campaign finance reform, a change in the way we conduct national elections and a change in the filibuster. President Obama, not burdened by re-election, can use his executive powers to enact programs if the congress does not. America is moving forward and the Republicans can’t stop us. It’s time to get to work.
First though, I’m gonna have that smoke.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Here’s some more pictures from election night at the MGM Grand Hotel:
- Obama wins Michigan, Romney takes Alabama (utsandiego.com)
- Election results 2012: Stabenow defeats Hoekstra in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race (mlive.com)