I was wrong...

Many months ago, if you had asked me about tonight's election, I would have told you that I didn't think America would vote for a black man as president. I had lived long enough in liberal east coast states to know that what we believed and how we voted was often not in line with the 30+ states "in between" the coasts. I have witnessed enough active and passive racism by people who have and have not known that they were doing anything wrong to be scared that it wouldn't happen. And it wasn't just the race issue that had me in doubt. I had been there with a really smart, experienced white guy from the south eight years earlier and he couldn't pull it off, so I was skeptical to say the least. I couldn't afford to get my hopes up just to have them dashed again. And even as the prospect of the citizens of the United States proving me wrong seemed to become more of a possibility, I hesitated to believe. Senator Obama was telling me it was possible, some of my most skeptical and politically adept and knowledgeable friends and family (including BH) were telling me it was possible. It would be tough, but it was possible.

As my friends and family will tell you, I often fail to admit when I'm wrong, and certainly to apologize. On this historic occasion, I concede. I was wrong and I have never been so happy to be wrong in my life. But, I'm definitely not sorry.

Still scarred

I want to be hopeful about tomorrow. I do, I really do. And deep down, I think I might be. But, there's one problem. I'm still not over 2000. I still don't believe it happened. Part of the problem is that I was there. I was working at HQ when we lost. I cried sad tears. I called my dad. It was the worst ending of a movie ever. I was standing in the rain waiting - and then my phone rang (all of our phones rang) - when we unlost. I cried happy tears. I was in DC pushing send on the email to tell the world that, even though we won, we were giving up. I knew it would take me a while to get over it. My next job at a major cable news channel where we used the other side of the still-marked-up electoral map as a white board did not help. Fahreinheit 911, during which I was the only one crying when they showed campaign rally scenes, did not help. Leaving my career in politics behind did not help. Perhaps you can't ever truly leave. When I say I have PTSD, others laugh but I am only half-kidding, or maybe I'm not kidding at all. I know it was eight years ago, that I was just a kid and now I'm a mom, but other people's confidence scares me. I want to tell them not to get too excited, but I don't. I want to tell them that they never can know what will happen, but I don't. People think I'm not excited or enthusiastic enough. Some might even think that I don't care. I care so much that I can't even talk about it. Please let Doris Kearns Goodwin (and all those other people who aren't afraid that saying something will make it not come true) be right. She's a smart, smart person, and as insightful as they come. Maybe if she is right, I'll get over it. And, if she's not, I really don't know what I'll do after I'm done crying. Maybe I'll go here for a while.

Don't Vote

One of the many things in my life that I often take for granted is voting. It's not that I don't vote. I think I have voted every time that I possibly could since I turned 18, but I rarely think about the privilege that it is or the power that it gives me. A lot of people say that voting doesn't matter, and it while is true that it is difficult to see how the vote of one person can make a difference in the direction of our nation or our communities, it really does:

If that explanation doesn't have enough star power to sway you, try this:

VOTE! And bring your friends and family with you!

Convention Highlights

On a more personal note, here are some of the highlights of my experience in Denver this week:

Meeting Anderson Cooper and having him chat with BH and me about HD. We waved to him from afar and told him that HD was his biggest fan (HD was sleeping and in fact has never seen Anderson). He came down from the CNN building and out into the fray to say hello to us. He even said, "He is tall for his age, isn't he?" to which BH proudly replied, "96th percentile, thank you for noticing." Then, under my breath to Anderson, I mentioned the possibility of the need for a blood test soon. Aside from being the prettiest man on television, he could not have been friendlier. I saw him many times throughout the week and he literally had to walk around with his head down so as not to be accosted by his crazed fans.

Being greeted by Senator Clinton at the WomenCount event and modeling their clothing on stage with HD.

Dennis Kucinich's speech. Simply amazing. (I was breastfeeding HD in the darkness of the very last row behind the stage during the speech.)

Doing actual work by helping the NEA blogger with one of her video posts (I held the Flip Video for her and HD managed to stay calm and steady in the Ergo).

Chatting with Donna Brazile, former Gore campaign manager, and introducing her to HD, one of the latest positive results of the campaign. She talked to HD about becoming President some day and suggested we have a Gore 2000 reunion.

Exploiting HD (without even trying) on a number of occasions to get preferential treatment, including being taken to the front of the security line at the Pepsi Center because the Secret Service agent wanted to, "get the baby out of the sun." We were also able to successfully break the no-stroller rule at Invesco. The TSA official was the only one who questioned us in a field of police, Secret Service, and other law enforcement officials...maybe because we were at the staff/press entrance?

Riding in a freight elevator with half of the Senate and Governor Gray Davis (D-CA) at Invesco.

Running into old friends from Gore, Clinton, and NBC days, including a friend of mine who now works for IAVA.

Other star sitings: Katie Couric (chatting with followers in the hallway), Ann Curry (on her cell phone in the hallway), Andrea Mitchell (walking and talking with her "people"), Charlie Gibson (smiled at HD), Bif Henderson of Late Night with David Letterman - BH saw him at a different time making delegates do push-ups, James Carville wearing black Pumas (not PUMAs) with bright yellow accents.

Seeing diversity of all kinds at the convention on all nights, especially the last night at Invesco. It was certainly a different crowd than LA or Boston - and it was awesome to be a part of it.

Shawn Johnson, Sheryl Crow, and Jennifer Hudson on stage.

Meeting so many wonderful people in Denver, my new favorite-nicest-people-in-the-world city. Everyone I met and/or asked a question of, from random vendors on the street, to armored police, was friendly and genuinely helpful. Two quick examples: a pedi-cab driver and a volunteer policeman independently gave me the correct cross streets of the closest drug store - can you do that in your city? Two guards helped me carry HD in his stroller down three flights of stairs (they relayed it). It is also a beautiful city with tons to do for adults and children.

Having our family together.

Seeing BH in action.

Being there to see and hear history being made.

Knowing HD won't remember it, but being so glad we brought him anyway.

Favorite lines of the week:

  • "Wake up, America!" - Dennis Kucinich
  • "It's not because John McCain doesn't care, it's because John McCain doesn't get it." - Barack Obama
  • "No way, no how, no McCain." - Hillary Clinton
  • "With an agenda like that, it makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart." - Hillary Clinton
  • "Einstein said a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. If we elect John McCain, then, according to Einstein, we surely would be insane." - Monica Early ("real" person)
  • "Republicans talk about putting “country first,” but tell that to Marion, Indiana. They sent my job overseas. America can’t afford more of the same. We need a president who puts the Barney Smiths before the Smith Barneys." - Barney Smith ("real" person)
  • "And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons." - Barack Obama
  • "If, like me, you still believe America must always be a place called Hope, then join Hillary, Chelsea and me in making Senator Barack Obama the next President of the United States." - Bill Clinton

Proud to be a DEMocrat

It has been a crazy week. HD and I decided to join BH out in Denver for the Democratic National Convention. As a former (President) Clinton staffer and a woman, I was soundly in the Hillary camp during the primary. Since Obama became the nominee, I, of course, have planned to vote for him for a number of reasons, but none of them were the personal, warm and fuzzy reasons that I wanted them to be. I've seen the ads and the snippets about his life and I think he is an intelligent and wonderful man, but I wasn't sure where he stood on so many of the issues that are important to me. Beyond being a parent, I didn't identify with him as strongly as I easily could with Hillary, a brilliant woman like myself. I wanted to love him, but I wasn't there. Now, I am.

Here are some of the reasons (scientific and emotional) why:

  1. He promised a college education to young people who commit to serving their country or their community
  2. Equal pay for women
  3. He promised to eliminate dependence  on oil from the Middle East in 10 years (will we still be allowed to drive our SUV?)
  4. He mentioned toy safety in his speech (e.g. phthalates)
  5. He picked Biden as his VP - I didn't know much about him before, but so far, I haven't found anything not to like about his lifetime of public service, his dedication to his own family, his experience in Washington, and his seemingly true connection to and ability to communicate with "real" people.  Oh, and I totally think he could fulfill the duties of President if ever necessary.
  6. He has young children.
  7. Michelle Obama is brilliant, strong, protective, and fierce. I won't even mention that she was once his boss and emanates sophistication and style.
  8. "It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it." - Seriously, folks. Sarah Palin? That's an insult to women everywhere.
  9. Senator Clinton told me to.
  10. President Clinton told me to.

I've been around long enough to know that campaign promises rarely turn in to real, live policies, but I finally know what his campaign promises are, and I like them, and I like him and I will leave Denver tonight with the hope and optimism that he will become our next President. And, I would be prouder to be an American than I ever have been before if the people of this country would elect a person of color to be their leader.