Local Dems dance in the street as Barack Obama is elected the 44th president of the United States.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Duke Deras didn’t release his raspy enthusiasm toward the Golden State Theatre’s cavernous ceilings because he just won an Barack Obama bumper sticker and a button in a raffle (though he did)– or because his tenant and family friend just smuggled him a Whole Foods sandwich from the room beneath the Golden State stage where the Monterey County Democratic Committee had laid out food for the 17-piece band above (though he had).
The 84-year-old Monterey resident hadn’t been waiting for those things, so shouting didn’t make sense.
“I lived a long time to see the goddamn tables turned,” Deras said on Election Night. “I’ve waited since Kennedy– Barack Obama is reminiscent of John F. Kennedy both philosophically and psychologically. They said a lot of older people wouldn’t support [Obama]. I said, ‘Nuts.’”
Duke’s shouts would get louder as the first projections announcing an Obama blowout appeared on the theater’s movie screen. And though Deras and the crowd had seemingly peaked in excitement and participation at that 8pm announcement– local women dancing as they were in Kenya, eyes everywhere dampening as they did in Chicago– they found another octave and population size an hour later when President-elect Obama interrupted County Supervisor-to-be Jane Parker from the screen behind the podium to deliver his acceptance speech.
Much has been made of an overly metaphoric love affair with Obama that has him quaking clouds and walking on Lake Erie. But as he unraveled his latest bit of oratory– “Tonight is your answer”; “Your vote does not create the change we sought, but the chance to make that change”– there was no metaphor necessary to describe the electricity that was crackling more tangibly through the State than any performance it’s seen in recent memory or the ground that, alive with pounding feet, simply shook.
While the landslide victory meant an earlier exit for many locals, it also meant key residents will stick around, including Monning, who will replace termed-out Assemblyman John Laird, who represents the Central Coast’s 27th District. While Monterey Bay Orchestra leader Paul Contos announced he was not going to Tijuana because of Obama’s win, Monning contended he would turn down a position in Obama’s administration “because [he has] signed up to do this work here.”
“The [state] budget-making process is broken,” he said. “First we have to reduce the two-thirds majority needed in the Assembly and the Senate to pass it… so we have the ability to keep pace with our growing population and many issues, so our tax payers are paying for education, health care, and reducing CO2 emissions and not servicing debt.”
Outside, other people stayed put. A 76-year-old Monterey resident joined a largely 20-something and senior crowd frolicking in the right lane of Alvarado Street, flagging cars and flashing signs. Having just heard the news after being sequestered at the polls all day, Carol Maehr danced with her dog Daisy. “My husband told me and I started screaming,” she said. “I was going to go to British Colombia, but not now.”