The Golden Age

It’s the day after the 2008 United States Presidential Election.
I bask in what happened last night. Like many, I’m still taking it all in, for it was indeed a seriously profound event; a remarkable night in our modern times.
Midnight Oil’s ‘Golden Age’ strums through this Queens apartment and heightens my proud reflections. This nation and the world has entered a new era and it began last night at eleven o’clock.

Times Square is a melting pot about to boil. Anticipation runs rife through the air as crowds begin to converge in the heart of New York City. Film crews and sweeping boom cameras fly over the streets in live crosses from CNN and ABC news hubs adjacent the pools of cordoned off masses. Folk vye for their twenty seconds of fame, getting as close to the camera crews as possible. Down the sidewalks, all walks of life gather with necks bent skyward, keeping up to date with every second of the election coverage splayed on the massive array of news screens. This is a veritable sea of heads united in mass hope for the hopefully inevitable. Merry pranksters and larrikins dance around in pro-bama make up and uniforms of ‘Change’ t-shirts with banners brandishing pro-blue slogans. On the busy sidewalks, touts flog a variety of novelty election condoms with the reminder that ‘hope is no effective form of contraception’. Sarah Palin condoms seem to be selling particularly well – the McCain variety less so. It seems no one even bothered to manufacture a Biden variety. The Square pulses large with blacks, whites, gay, straight, young, old, Americans and foreigners – everyone finds themselves bound together here in an electric undercurrent of immense anticipation.

At ten o’clock it looks good for the crowd favourite. On 207 electoral votes to John McCain’s 140-odd, Barack Obama sits more than comfortably as exit polls suggest that the initial projections are probably right on par with the reality going on across the nation. Voters have come out in unbelievably unprecedented levels this year and it’s a good showing for the institution of Democracy. Grassroots are showing how strong they really are when given their rightful moment in the sun. The hour of eleven approaches and suddenly, Foxnews and CNN break the news that the dream has come true - Barack Hussein Obama is President-elect of the United States of America. Shock, disbelief, tears and awe, thousands upon emotional thousands of human beings nod their heads, mouthing ‘yes’, some leaping, screaming, all going absolutely wild for this truly amazing flicker of history. Fists puncture the air, hands wave furiously, slapping high fives and h tens to all receivers. Everone smiles at each other, strangers turn and speak to each other about their collective elation, bound together. For the lingering moment everyone is everyone’s friend. New York City has rarely ever been this energised, alive, electric or united.

In the morning, the Times would write:

“This is one of those moments in history when it is worth pausing to reflect on the basic facts: An American with the name Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a white woman and a black man he barely knew, raised by his grandparents far outside the stream of American power and wealth, has been elected the 44th president of the United States”

An educated, measured, charismatic orator with the ability to instill a hope many thought was dormant forever, someone who finally - finally just might be able to steer things back to the level of optimism that was crushed when this century dawned. Someone to quell that craving for optimism, tolerance, love and humanity that has lacked so dearly in the leadership of the past decade, where war, violence and death has permeated the world, spread like a virus by the toxic politics of fear.

But even more so, the election of Barack Obama as America’s first black president is set to yield an untold ripple effect on so many aspects of this nation’s consciousness – a catalystic event that speaks of the end of race barriers, the end of old, outmoded ways of thinking. Obama in the White House has ‘electrified the world’. There is a sense now, that anything and everything is possible.

God I was overjoyed with pathos standing in Times Square at that moment. It was absolutely stunning staring up to a massive NASDAQ screen at montages of a smiling 47 year old Obama – this nation’s great leader to be. The First black American president. I kept reeling that through my mind. My body burned in swells and sparks of spine chill at what this all meant – what it meant for everything! - and the unbelievable sensation of being right in the middle as it all went down. I savoured a moment that I will one day be able to tell my kids and grandkids about, that remarkable second when history was made and the world was changed forever.

I danced at Trade’s Hall when Howard got the boot last November. Here, I revel in the heart of New York City as the era of Bush comes to an end.
In the words of The Nation’s William Grieder ‘Let us congratulate ourselves on being alive at such a promising moment’

"So tell me what you see
Tell me what you hear
And if it's the same as me it's the Golden age"

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