Election 2008

Patti: I can’t believe the day has finally come and gone. It seems like it took so LONG to get here – election day! Johanna and I couldn’t let this pass without some sort of mention, so we thought we’d talk to each other here in this column about our impressions from both coasts — East and West!

Johanna: My  mother, who is 82 years old, told me that it reminded her of when Kennedy won.  The jubilation, the sense of hope.  She said she’d forgotten how that felt until Obama won on Tuesday.  She noted how he’s inspired so many young people and how Kennedy did the same thing.  “John and Jackie are coming back to the White House,” a friend of hers said yesterday.

Patti: You know, I thought about that. I was pretty small at the time, but I remember how people talked about it. I gotta say, it was pretty exciting that people were spontaneously celebrating in front of the White House — totally unprecedented! I can’t believe I didn’t hop in the car myself and head on down there, but I had to catch an early flight the next morning — god, I’m lame! (But still working on fabulous!) As it was, I was up until after 1 a.m. listening to speeches — how could you not? What a historical moment. I definitely envied you West-coasters, though, who were getting it in prime time!

Johanna:  It was truly FABULOUS.  I watched the election coverage at a friend’s house, with about ten other people.  We were tuned into Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  When Stewart just announced that Obama had won, we jumped out of our seats cheering and clapping.  We heard some cheers coming from outside the house and went outside on the landing to see other families coming out of their homes and cheering.  When Henri and I drove home to Berkeley, all cars on the road were honking in joy and when we finally got into bed later that night, we could hear the cheers of UC Berkeley students, who had poured into the streets.  In fact, a Cal freshman that I know told me that she was getting into bed in her dorm room at around 11 p.m. and when she found out fellow students were headed out, she said, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” and joined them.  I’ll attach a snapshot she took on Telegraph Ave. at midnight.

Patti: This election wore me out. As I get older, the negativity takes more and more of a toll. But when I went to vote –which, let’s face it, had a slightly different feel to it this time than in elections past with the huge turnout — I felt like I was honoring all the women who came before me and made it possible for me to be standing in that line at all. They defined fabulous, and they endured some of the most humiliating and dehumanizing treatment imaginable –incarceration in jails and insane asylums, starvation and force feeding, beating, you name it.

I just feel I have to talk about the suffragists here. I don’t want people (women, especially) to forget  their bravery and how much they put themselves at risk for all of us women to have the vote. If I voted for no other reason, it would be that. And please don’t call them suffragettes! That was a derogatory term made to diminish them and make them seem less consequential. just silly little girls. I’ll get off my soapbox now, but I did want to talk about that and give them the recognition they deserve.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m good with the way the election turned out, but I can’t wait until our president is a woman, though!

Johanna:  Very good points.  It’s so important to remember our history as a gender, because it can be taken for granted.  I think about Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan.  I think about the fact that women’s rights was considered “radical.”  We still have a ways to go, mind you, but it’s thanks to women like that, who were willing to stand up to what was conventional and accepted, and to rock the boat, if you will.  I fight complacency.  I try every day to remember all that happened before my time and all the energy and sacrifice that others made, in order for my way of life today to even be possible.  I try to fight my own fights in the same way, remembering that though the causes may not be understood in today’s conventional society, there’s a bigger picture here.  Rights and equality and compassion for all.  That’s the bottom line.  But don’t get me on MY soapbox!  My goodness.  

This election gave hope back to people who lost it, or more, never even had it in the first place.  Did you know that 69% of first time voters in this election, voted for Obama?    

Patti:  That’s pretty great! When do we get to start calling him Barry, like Michelle does? 🙂 Sorry — I felt the need to lighten this up all of a sudden. Hey, did I tell you I wrote myself in for State Board of Education? I just didn’t really like the people running, and Washington, D.C. schools are in a heck of a state. I figured I could do at least as well! DTBF! It felt kind of fun and empowering — I don’t know why it had never occurred to me before. Maybe you can manage my campaign next time and I can make an official run!

Johanna:  I love it!  I told a few people about that.  I think that was a wonderful idea.  Patti for Board of Ed!   BTW.  Before we get off the women and politics subject, two sites I suggest to check out.  I’ll refrain from describing them to keep the text short here.  Definitely worth a click!   What’s Your Point, Honey? and A Single Woman (we’ve mentioned that one a few times.  A film directed and produced by our DTBF sister, Kamala Lopez.)

Patti: I’m glad you included those links, thanks! By the way … I know all of you have voted in different ways for different things this election, and some things went your way and some things didn’t. It’s pretty much the same for all of us, I guess, and a little painful when we are voting with our hearts. I feel sad that gay marriage didn’t fare well in a few states, among other issues. I was thrilled with Prop 2 out there in California, though, right, Johanna? That must have been pretty thrilling to live in a state that is saying yes to humane treatment of animals — and “yes” by a landslide! You must be pretty proud! And Question 3 in Massachusetts! The cruel sport of greyhound racing will be a thing of the past next year in that state! Those are just a couple of the things I’m happy about.

All in all, I’d say I’m feeling more optimistic now than I have in a long time — I think people daring to be fabulous is making a difference — standing up for beliefs that we thought wouldn’t have even have had a shot a few years ago. That reminds me — if you have an election day related story to share, please send it to us! Maybe we’ll include them on the site! I can honestly say that in the long time I have been voting, I’ve never heard so many people say in different ways how empowered they felt. So share your story with us!

Johanna:  Proposition 2 was a big victory in California.  Residents of this state were given the opportunity to declare that the treatment of factory farmed animals matters, despite what the industry standards might be.  Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the reality of the suffering that is endured, so there was some satisfaction in seeing the ads that showed even the tiniest glimpse of that world to people who never realized this was the case.  I do want to say one more thing about this, before we close on this column.   I’ve heard a few individuals actually compare Prop 2 with Prop 8, expressing their disappointment that animals got the vote when gays didn’t.  I am befuddled by this comparison.  Why must they be opposed to one another at all?  

I think this year’s election and Obama’s victory has already become one of those “where were you when?” stories.  I’d love to receive stories about your election day experiences.   Post them as a comment below this column, or if you want to expand on them, perhaps as a DTBF story submission of your own!  

Patti: I don’t know what to say about that comparison, Johanna. Yes, I do. It’s never Fabulous to wish that, because you were not treated kindly, that someone else who did receive a kindness shouldn’t have been able to receive it in the face of your own disappointment. It is just. not. cool.  And Johanna, I totally agree with you. I think people will be telling stories for a long time about where they were, what they were doing, who they were with on election night. Except me. i was being too dull at home in my jammies.

I’d like to say just one more thing before wrapping this up. If any of you have volunteered on any campaign doing the hard work of phone banking, door hanging, or whatever, or worked on any election as a poll worker or on a GOTV effort — you have looked around and saw that the great majority of those doing this work were WOMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Women … make… it … happen.  I just had to say that. It’s true.

Johanna: Amen, sister.  Or rather, Awomen!   We’ll wrap it up on that note and look forward to your stories!

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One Comment:

  1. Loved your thoughts Johanna and Patti. I didn’t anticipate the celebration around the world. I am very touched by the reactions I see from African in Africa. The sentiments I hear about not being ruled by a white man. They are thilled that a black man finally rules the white man. When I pass African Americans and others of black skin, here on the streets of New York City, they look you in the eye. There is a pride and an equalization I can’t put into words. Jane from NYC!