I started the day at the gym, in part, to ward off the calories I knew would hit the newsroom. It’s tradition here to eat pizza, Chinese food and M&Ms on election night.
I then began a new tradition of meeting for lunch with some veteran Contra Costa politicos for some off-the-record predictions about national and local races. The most prescient among us win bragging (or gloating) rights until the next election.
And then I watched the first African-American in this nation’s history become president-elect. It was something many believed could not happen in my lifetime or even the lifetimes of my children and grandchildren.
Unlike the past several presidential elections, the outcome unfolded quickly, too.
By 8:01 p.m., the television networks declared Obama the winner. GOP nominee John McCain delivered a very classy concession speech. It was just what I would have expected from McCain.
I was unable to listen to all of Obama’s short speech because I was busy writing about the early results in congressional district 11 (McNerney vs. Andal) but I am sure I can find it online in at least 3,000 places.
Now, all eyes will be on the Democrats.
They will hold power in the White House, Congress and the U.S. Senate, a trifecta that will carry both tremendous responsibility and an extraordinary level of scrutiny. The country faces deep economic uncertainty, growing concerns about climate change and expensive wars on terror that seem to have no end.
Obama promises change but as the debate during the election showed, voters are far from united on what that means. Meanwhile, near super-human status has been bestowed on this one man — even Obama jokes about it — and he will almost certainly fall short of the expectations of one group or another. Obama has inspired tens of thousands of people to become involved in the process but unlike an emotional election night victory, political successes are usually measured in small incremental steps over many years. Will these new enthusiasts have the patience and the stamina to stick with it over the long haul?
Tomorrow … make that later today … I will talk with the East Bay members of Congress and find out how they view their jobs in the next two years given the changing political landscape.