Yesterday was incredible. I woke up with so much energy and went out and voted. Then, I spent the next four hours walking a very hilly precinct in Oakland where half of the doors were up several flights of stairs. It was completely exhausting but also very fulfilling. Most people had voted and I saw lots of No on 8 signs (though also a couple of Yes on 8 signs).
I managed to then get myself to my office for a few hours and somehow focused enough to get some work done. And then then the polls started closing at 3pm and 4pm. I kept reloading Talking Points Memo, Swing State Project, and CNN, getting some work done in between obsessively checking for results. By 5pm, no one in my office was fully concentrating on work anymore – we had one computer running the live feed from MSNBC while I kept reloading lots of pages. Once Pennsylvania was called, I felt like it was over already, but this was confirmed for me when Ohio was called. It started to sink in a bit – Barack Obama was going to be our next president.
I was starving so I grabbed some sushi at Ichiro and headed down to a friend’s office in uptown. We ate sushi and waited for the networks to formally call it for Obama. I called friends who had been working in swing states and congratulated them. I talked to my dad, who sounded like he was on the verge of tears. And then at 8:01, they called it. We all started crying, and shouting. My friend opened his window and shouted – and several people on the street responded with shouts of joy.
The night continued in this direction for hours. We headed over to the Marriott for Rebecca Kaplan’s victory party, and when we got there we found out she was up with more than 60% of the vote. We then found out that Measure KK in Berkeley was going down in flames. The two campaigns that I had dedicated nearly all my free time to over the past several months had won decisively. I felt proud of my work and proud of our country.
That feeling persisted for hours. Obama’s speech brought tears to my eyes. There were smiles on everyone’s faces as we congratulated Rebecca Kaplan and each other. When I headed back out, over to Radio, the streets were packed with people in cars and on foot. Most of them seemed to be headed to Jack London Square. There were hundreds of people in the streets in downtown Oakland and we were all celebrating. Inside Radio, everyone had huge smiles on their faces and at one point a crowd of people burst through the door chanting about Obama.
I managed to celebrate through most of the night, even though people kept telling me that Prop 8 was up (I refused to look at the numbers myself). I kept telling myself that the early voting was more heavily conservative and the first counties to report are always the inland counties. It would be hours before Alameda, San Francisco, and Los Angeles reported so why bother worrying?
But between midnight and 1am, the numbers were still looking pretty bad. I didn’t know what counties had been counted, but it started to look clear to me that Prop 8 was going to pass. I started to get sad and worried. The friend I was with convinced me to stop worrying – Los Angeles almost certainly still had more votes to count, and we both assumed LA would vote against 8.
Well, we were wrong. I got home a couple hours later and checked in on the vote. Prop 8 had definitely passed, and worse, Los Angeles had voted in favor of it. Also, Alameda and San Francisco had had abysmal turnout. It was clearly over, even though the No on 8 campaign wasn’t conceding.
I finally got to sleep at 5am and slept through most of the day. When I awoke, I surprised myself and felt cheerful, thinking about what it meant that Obama would be our next president. That feeling quickly faded though. Even as I looked through all the congratulatory emails from the No on KK campaign committee, I couldn’t bring a smile to my face. All I could think about was that more than half of Californian voters voted to write discrimination into the constitution. They voted to discriminate against me and so many others.
I also thought critically about Rebecca Kaplan’s win. When I was phoning last week for Kaplan and No on 8, I was surprised at how many people I talked to who were voting enthusiastically for Kaplan but were also voting enthusiastically for 8. I’m guessing most of those people knew little of Rebecca’s sexual orientation. But ultimately they voted a lesbian onto our city council and simultaneously voted to strip her of one of her most fundamental rights. So even here in Oakland, we have a long way to go.
A part of me knows that I should be celebrating right now. I helped win two very important local campaigns and our country is headed in a new direction (the seats Dems picked up in the House and the Senate will certainly help with that). But I can’t help feeling incredibly distraught and disillusioned. Though I’m still proud of myself and my country, I can’t bring myself to feel proud of California.