When you’ve done retail politics in Brooklyn, not much surprizes you. But I just heard something that has me stunned.
Senator Charles Schumer voted this morning in a Brooklyn election district I know well. And he just said on MSNBC that he waited an hour. This is really a very big deal.
I cannot recall one election in that election district in which voters had to wait for a hour. Given that New York state is safe for Obama, and that there are no hotly contested races going on in Schumer’s neighborhood, it seems that the sheer excitement and history of the national election is driving turnout.
Without starting to tell hilarious stories about Brooklyn politics, let’s just say that general elections are virtually never contested there. All the action is in the Democratic primaries. But did we have fun! Brooklyn politics was my basic training in retail persuasion.
As my students know, I go out of my way to create an atmopshere in my classes that is safe for students of all political persuasions — Democrat, Republican, and all other parties. But neither have I hidden my preference for Senator Obama.
And sometime later today, Ill try to share the incredible emotion I feel as I cast my vote for him. Some of you in your 20s and 30s will probably end the day sick of hearing older people talk about how they never expected to see a day when an African American would have a serious chance of being elected President. I’m sick of hearing myself say it!
But I might never stop. Today is a day that is haunted by the ghosts of people — from famous to anonymous — who died to make this possible.
Have we erased the national shame that is the American experience with race? Of course not. Anger and privilege and bias don’t simply disappear. They don’t simply fade away without a fight.
But the distance we have travelled is nothing short of incredible.