The Climb

Nov 5th, 2008 | By | Category: Science and Society

I can’t sleep.

I just crawled out of bed and sat down at my kitchen table, giving my brain an attempt at accepting all that has happened tonight.

The results for the Washington State races seem almost unbelievably good–Tim Eyman destine for definitive defeat, transit for a definitive victory along with death with dignity, the reelection of our democratic governor and the potential victory of Darcy Burner.

And then, there is Obama. It doesn’t seem possible. We live in a country willing and able to reelect George W Bush a mere four years ago, to probably pass a punitive and vicious discriminatory State Constitutional amendment on this very evening. And yet, Obama. With a landslide.

And it’s all over the country. As I write this, there is a distinct chance that the Democrats will achieve a 60 person super majority in the Senate and pick up a larger than expected number of seats in the House.

We asked the country, and received “yes” as an answer this time.

On my kitchen table are the week’s New York Times–surrounding me with the pre-election moment.

A few scattered headlines:

“Steep Decline in October Auto Sales Leaves No Seller Immune”

“New Terrain For Arbiters Of a Bailout”

“Afghan Officials Aided an Attack on U.S. Soldiers”

“U.S. Rejects G.M.’s Call For Help In a Merger”

“Debt Links to Huge Buyouts Is Tightening the Economic Vise”

“Next President Will Face Test On Detainees”

“Fed Adds $21 Billion To Loans For A.I.G”

“New Anxiety Grips Russia’s Economy”

“Economy Shrinks With Consumers Leading the Way”

“Mortgage Plan May Aid Many And Irk Others”

“Specter of Deflation Lurks As Global Demand Drops”

“A Rescue Hindered By Politics”

After eight–perhaps twelve–years of terrifying, out-of-control skidding it finally feels as though our collective feet have found purchase. We’ve finally stopped our plummet, or at least started to stop our decline, far closer to the edge of a deep abyss than any of us would like. Or so I hope.

Trudging back up is going to make the next four years (and probably many more) as difficult as anything known to the overwhelming majority of us. And have no more illusions. It won’t be the Chinese, the Russians, the EU. We must be in the lead of the difficult rise as much as we were the leaders of the swift and easy fall.

McCain, and particularly Palin, were selling the notion that these problems weren’t real, that the real problem is we aren’t belligerent and profligate enough, that all we need to do was double down. Obama means we’re finally ready to about face, and start grappling with the long-neglected reality of our situation.

So, as I sit anxiously awake at four AM, all these thoughts–and a few others, of the sweet feeling of victory, of the vanquishing of so much hatred and fear, of relief of the end of procrastination–swirl through my mind. Much coalesces to a sharp point. I’d work for the Obama administration, grinding my life against what we collectively face.

And I suspect I am not the only one.