On 1 November 2004, I boarded a plane at 6:30 PM in MSP and flew to the UK as the start of my secondment here, landing at 7:30 AM on the US's election day. I am quite the politically opinionated liberal and I'd voted a few days before I flew by absentee ballot, but I wore my "I Voted!" sticker on the plane and was a jamble of nerves the whole day. I hadn't had a good night's sleep in at least two weeks prior to my departure, so I spent my first day in the UK wondering what the hell I'd done and trying to figure out my shower and falling asleep sitting up, so I had things to keep me occupied while I waited. My body clock was a stinking mess, and I couldn't help it...I committed the cardinal sin of taking an actual nap midday, so my sleep that night was fitful at best. I turned the TV on to keep me company, and from midnight on there was wall-to-wall coverage on both BBC1 and ITV of the US elections. I drifted off to sleep about 3:30 AM with the comforting knowledge that John Kerry looked to be the next US President.
Obviously, I woke up to a very different story. It was horrible. But I got ready for work and went in for my first full day, answering all sorts of questions about our political system and what people were thinking. I was furious, depressed...I felt so far away from home, like my country had deserted me and I was truly in exile.
Fast forward two years.
Last night I went to bed at 11. It's been a long week and I'm exhausted and I need my brain and health in good working order for exams next week. Wall-to-wall coverage of US midterm elections started at midnight, but my heart wasn't in it. I was sure that we would lose. I was sure I would wake up to the bad new that the Dems had not only not won the Senate, they'd not won the house, either. Why lose sleep over something that was going to ruin my day anyway? Better to be well rested.
Woke up at 6 to go to the gym. Turned on the radio. Sat bolt up in bed. Dems controlled the house. They were closing in on the Senate. Bush had been shamed. The world was excited that the US might finally come to its senses. OH MY GOD.
I have been sitting on a cloud all day. I've been answering questions about our political system and what people were thinking all day. But this time, I enjoyed it. My faith is renewed. I have hope.
I still think we'll not get the Senate. We're going to get Virginia, and then Joe Lieberman will declare that he's going to caucus with Republicans. He owes them. And I'm worried that the relative success of these elections will lull people into thinking Diebold machines can be trusted or that the Dems will go back to their same milquetoast mamby pamby posturing instead of trying to actually do something. And don't get me started on Hillary. She's phenomenal, bless her, but she cannot, will not win.
But for today, I'm happy. I don't feel exiled. I feel like hugging every single voter who voted for change.
And Donald Rumsfeld's resignation? That's Jacob's birthday present. Rest in peace, Jacob.